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Smithsburg to hire town planner

April 11, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Smithsburg officials said Sunday the town intends to hire a part-time planner to help tackle issues that include annexation, population growth and land subdivision.

Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said the town soon will hire for the new position. Myers said the town has started "putting feelers out" but has not crafted a definitive strategy for filling the position.

Myers said the planner will have an immediate focus on issues of land subdivision, because an ordinance governing the practice is being revised, and annexation, of which there are three formal requests being considered by the council.

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She said it is the first time Smithsburg will have an employee specifically designated to work on those issues as well as the town's comprehensive plan, which must be revised by law.

"We used to have a planner who worked with the town and Boonsboro, but we haven't had someone on board for quite some time," she said.

The position calls for 10 hours of work per week at a rate of $20 per hour, Myers said.

Councilman Jerome Martin said some of the planner's specific duties are still being decided. He said informal discussions about hiring someone for the position began about one year ago and became more serious within the last two months.

"The town just needs to cover all its bases and make sure we're giving residents all the services we can," Martin said.

Martin said annexation requests are as important a factor in the decision to create the position as any.

"We have so many annexation proposals ... We just need someone with a little more expertise in that area to advise us," he said.

Martin is among several town officials who have expressed concerns with growth both inside and just outside of the town's borders. He has said that continued significant population increases, which larger annexation plans could bring, would likely strain town resources in areas such as education, public works, sewer capacity and crime.

According to U.S. Census numbers released in 2001, Smithsburg was the fast growing municipality in Washington County.

Martin said he expects the town to move quickly on the hiring.

"This is not something that will be debated for months. It's going to happen right away," he said.

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