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Smithsburg council rejects annexation of development

October 03, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

SMITHSBURG - A developer's plan to build 90 homes southeast of Smithsburg suffered a setback Tuesday night when the Smithsburg Town Council voted 4-1 against annexing the development into town.

Annexing the land would have allowed the development to use Smithsburg's water and sewer systems and might have helped the developer, Cloverly Hill LLC, get around county zoning rules that limit the number of homes allowed on the property, Cloverly president Daniel Cross said.

Councilmembers Thomas L. Chiarizia, Shirley D. Aurand, Dennis "Jack" Wenthe and Jerome Martin voted against the annexation of the 63-acre site after citizens expressed concerns about the impact the development would have on the town's schools, utilities and other infrastructure at a public hearing Sept. 26. About 40 people attended the hearing and about 10 spoke, Washington County senior planner Jill Baker said.

Martin said his primary concern was that he does not feel the property is sufficiently contiguous to the town.

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The site is south of Md. 64 and east of Md. 77 and does not border the town. However, the annexation proposal also included a section of Md. 77 that connects to the town's South Main Street - but Martin said the developer hadn't demonstrated that was sufficient to allow the town to annex the development.

Cross said he respected the council's decision and plans to "step back" for at least a few months before making another attempt at annexation.

Before the vote, Cross told the council there was little he could do to address concerns about crowding schools, but said he would be paying about $800,000 to the school system through his building permits, which would help with the construction of a new high school.

Cross said, even with annexation approved, it would have taken at least three years to get additional approvals and the building would take place over a period of three to four years. Tuesday's vote might set the process back another year.

"I'm not in a hurry," he said.

The council's vote came despite a decision earlier Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners to grant express approval to the annexation.

The commissioners voted 3-2 to support express approval of the project, though an official vote would have to have been taken after the town approved the annexation.

Under the consensus vote, the commissioners said they would give express approval to the project as long as developers met the APFO requirements, added buffering along the borders with adjacent farmland, built no more than the planned 92 homes and upheld plans to locate forestation on site.

Staff writer Joshua Bowman contributed to this story.

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