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Boonsboro almost doubles in size with annexations

December 29, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

BOONSBORO - Boonsboro grew nearly twice as large Thursday as the town council voted to approve eight annexations.

"It's all about control. We got control through these agreements," Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said after the council unanimously approved agreements that would compel would-be developers to make certain infrastructure improvements.

Though some residents have voiced concerns about the annexations, Kauffman and other town officials said the moves will give them more control over how and when the land is developed.

The developers and property owners of the annexed areas will not be allowed to proceed with development unless the town gives its permission first, according to some of the agreements Town Manager Debra Smith and Town Planner Derek Meyers read. The town must affirm that schools have adequate capacity.

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Developers also must pay for fees associated with the annexations, and they will be responsible for infrastructure improvements, such as the construction of certain segments of roads, including Warrior and Chase Six boulevards, according to the agreements.

One agreement calls for the developer to set aside at least 15 acres for an elementary school, and Kauffman asked developers at Thursday's meeting to remember the town's need for housing for senior citizens and young couples.

Development of the properties will have to wait until at least 2008, when construction of the town's new wastewater treatment facility is complete, Kauffman said.

In all, the annexations cover more than 944 acres, according to information provided by the town. In an interview before a public hearing about the annexations earlier this month, Meyers said the town includes about 2,100 homes and covers 982 acres.

The town's growth is limited to just 1,640 new sewer taps, Meyers told The Herald-Mail in earlier interviews.

Though an agreement with Easterday Land Development LLC calls for the allocation of up to 40 utility taps for a commercial parcel of about 17 allocations, Councilman Kevin Chambers said no taps have been formally assigned.

Jason M. Divelbiss, who represents the contract purchaser of the Eleanor Lakin property, said his clients understand the limitations.

"We understand the challenges and are fully ready to deal with the town to address them," Divelbiss said after the meeting.

Outside the crowded town council meeting room, Charleen Jones, 59, and her husband held a sign protesting the annexations.

"We were born and raised here," Jones said before the votes. "We like the small-town feel. We deal with all of the traffic already with the growth that we've had, and we don't want 800 acres annexed."

About 50 people crowded into the Eugene C. Smith Community Center at the start of the special meeting.

Kauffman said he recognized people's concerns - many people spoke out against the annexations and growth at a public hearing Dec. 18 - but he believes the agreements will allow the town to control its own destiny.

Several people walked out of the meeting after council members, who had voted for the first three annexations on the agenda, indicated they planned to support the entire slate of motions.

"By taking control of this land, we do have control over how fast this land is developed," Councilman Mervin "Frank" Nuice said. "If it stays in the county, we have no say."

Kauffman, who said he grew up in a small town, called it a "complete victory."

"We wanted control, we got control," he said after the meeting. "To me, that's a complete victory for the town."

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