Friends of Frederick County has analyzed the 194 proposals available for public reading at: Frederick County Government website, Community Development page. Here is a summary of our findings:
|Municipality||Number of proposals||Agriculture/open space properties requesting reclassification and rezoning (acres)||Agriculture/ open space properties requesting reclassification and rezoning for residential development (acres)||approximate # of homes to be constructed||approx # of new school children||approx # of additional car trips/day on local roads|
In 2007 Myer’s Farm was considered for annexation decision. Mayor Burns surveyed the residents of Thurmont; the results were were decidedly against annexing the property for residential and retail development. Thurmont Mayor and Council recently approved their munipal growth element; it’s map reveals that once again the Myer’s Farm is within the growth area meaning that annexation of the Myer’s farm is an option.
Every municipality in Maryland is required to adopt a “municipal growth element” as part of its comprehensive plan. The initial deadline for meeting this requirement was October 1, 2009. For good cause shown, the Maryland Department of Planning may grant up to two six month extensions of this deadline — to either April 1, 2010 or October 1, 2010.
The Maryland Legislature has provided for the suspension of zoning authority in any municipality that fails to adopt a municipal growth element within the prescribed time limits. By establishing this extraordinary penalty, the Legislature has underscored its commitment to sound planning at the municipal level.
In developing its growth element, a municipality must, among other things, evaluate and disclose the potential impacts of its planned growth on county-wide services and facilities (e.g. roads; schools; water and sewer; parks; fire and emergency services etc.). This information, in turn, will enable the county to project the likely costs of accommodating proposed municipal growth plans.
A municipal corporation is required to consult with the county in developing a municipal growth element. In the course of this consultation, the county may provide the municipality with information related to the cost to the county of accommodating proposed municipal growth.
A municipal corporation is also required to provide a copy of its proposed municipal growth element to the county and, for a period of 30 days thereafter, to accept comments from the county. In its comments on the municipal growth element, the county may request additional information on the impacts of planned growth on county-wide services and facilities. The county may also request that the municipality decrease the size of its planned growth area where (i) county-wide services and facilities are not sufficient to accommodate municipal growth plans; and (ii) the county will not in the foreseeable future have the resources to expand its infrastructure to accommodate this planned municipal growth.
Within 30 days following the close of the comment period, the county and the municipal corporation “shall meet and confer regarding the municipal growth element.”
This meeting provides the county and municipality an opportunity to resolve differences of opinion regarding (i) the likely costs to the county of municipal growth, as proposed; and (ii) the appropriate size of the planned growth area. According to the Maryland Department of Planning, “HB 1141 mandates that jurisdictions meet and confer on this subject before the municipal growth element can be adopted.”
Following this meeting, “on the request of either party”, the county and the municipality shall employ the mediation and conflict resolution office of the Maryland Department of Planning to resolve any remaining differences of opinion. The Maryland Department of Planning has stated that:
Good planning dictates that the municipality and county agree on those land areas that will someday become part of the municipality.
Originally published October 17, 2007
THURMONT — Town commissioners unanimously denied a request Tuesday evening to annex the area known as the Myers Farm.
Therefore, said Mayor Martin Burns, residents should be prepared to pay higher taxes and water and sewer bills to cover costs of a state-mandated sewer rehabilitation.
Developer Tom Hudson and HKB Myers Land LLC planned to build 350 homes, a retail center and a medical facility on the 210 acres located along U.S. 15 north of North Franklinville Road.
In return for annexation, Hudson was prepared to provide the development’s own wastewater treatment plant and all necessary water, as well as $2 million, between $5,000 and $7,000 per house, in donations. He also offered $1.75 million in water and sewer hookup fees, even though none of the homes would use the town’s system.
Hudson’s offer included $145,000 that the town could spend on whatever it chose, and $1 million to $2 million for a community swimming pool.
The town would likely have used some of Hudson’s money for the $4.6 million sewer rehabilitation.
Opinion was mixed during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s hearing.
Several residents cited increased traffic on U.S. 15, the loss of the area’s “small-town” feel, and the view that commissioners were using the annexation as a “quick fix” for fiscal problems.
Those in support of the proposal said the town needed more businesses and a medical facility, and places for young people to socialize. Some said the plan would bring jobs and at least some affordable housing.
However, despite the financial incentive, commissioners decided the negative effects were too great to overlook. Three of the five commissioners cited the inevitable increase in traffic on U.S. 15 as a reason to deny the proposal.
Burns said he did not have a strong opinion either way, but said he would follow the wishes of his constituents, hundreds of which responded to a poll he conducted last fall.
Two-thirds of poll respondents said they were not in favor of the annexation. Also, in the recent town election, voters chose two commissioners who opposed the proposal.
Burns said that since the majority of town residents were not in favor of the annexation, they should be ready for the higher taxes necessary to fix the town’s troubled sewer system. He would have voted for the annexation if he thought the town would “go down the tubes” without it or if he thought constituents were misinformed.
“Taxes will go up, and water and sewer rates are going up in a significantly drastic way,” he said.
Hudson declined to comment following the decision, as did other partners in HKB Myers Land LLC.
Commissioners also urged residents to bury the hard feelings the proposal has created since it was first presented more than a year ago.
“In the 18 years I’ve been on the board, this is the most divisive issue,” said commissioner Wayne Hooper. “There is no winner or loser here … I hope the animosity is put aside.”
Originally published March 24, 2006 http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/archives/display_detail.htm?StoryID=56504
Thurmont will soon be presented with an annexation request proposing it annex the 235-acre Myers farm along U.S. 15 behind the Shamrock Restaurant — so that farm owners and developers can build a Wal-Mart (or similar store), a strip mall, and up to 400 homes on county land currently zoned agricultural!
We must oppose such development as: 1) It would irreparably change the character of the area and contribute to road congestion; 2) It would go against the designation of U.S. 15 as a Scenic Highway; and 3) the presence of a Wal-Mart would inevitably lead to the closure of small, downtown businesses.
I must respectfully disagree with Mayor Burns’ statement in the Catoctin Banner that “the decision to make is a business decision.” For those of us living next to the farm, it is not a business decision, but a decision about quality of life, a decision about what we value and hold dear, and a decision about how we will (or won’t) preserve the land for future generations.
The concept of a Thurmont referendum on the proposal is seriously flawed. Only town residents would get to vote. Those of us living right around the farm, those who would actually most suffer the negative consequences, would not get a vote since we live outside town limits!
Next time you drive down U.S. 15 by the Shamrock Restaurant, stop at the overlook, take a good look, and ask yourself if the best use for this land is a Wal-Mart, strip mall, and hundreds of houses stretching all the way back to the mountains? I think not.
Please contact Mayor Burns, Thurmont town commissioners, and Frederick County Commissioners. Let them know you are against this “taking” of county land so a few may get very rich to the ultimate detriment to us all.