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Town considers rezoning requests

Danielle Ryan

(6/18) During the June 7th Thurmont Town meeting, a workshop session was held concerning several rezoning requests in Thurmont. This workshop followed the Planning Commission’s public hearing on five comprehensive rezoning cases. The Board was presented the requests and detailed information by Chris Jakubiak, the Town’s Planner.

Jakubiak spoke about the Comprehensive Plan and how the Planning Commission uses it when making decisions regarding zoning recommendations. The recommendations by the Planning Commission are only recommendations as the Planning Commission does not have the authority to make final decisions regarding rezoning. In essence, the recommendations were brought to the Board of Commissioners to be discussed further and then voted upon.

The five cases up for consideration were as follows: Mr. Joseph Eyler on Eyler Road; Mechanicstown, LLC on Emmitsburg Road; Amin Rajendra on North Church Street; Russell and Cynthia Poole on East Main Street; Baker Tree Service on Water Street.

Eric Baker, from Baker Tree Service, requested to rezone his property from Open Space to Commercial, in order to build a new building on the existing property. The Planning Commission originally recommended rezoning the property as General Commercial, but after some additional thought and discussion concerning the future outlook on the property, Jakubiak presented the option of changing the allowed uses within the Open Space district to allow activities such as tree services and landscaping services. This option would allow for some specific development of the property now or in the future while still maintaining the environmental integrity of the site. The option also prevents full-scale commercial development on Open Space zoned properties in town.

The second property, owned by Mr. Eyler, was brought to the Board. Mr. Eyler petitioned to have the property rezoned from A-1 Agriculture to R-2 Residential. Jakubiak felt as though this change was consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, but the Planning Commission felt otherwise. One member of the Planning Commission abstained from voting due to his home being located adjacent to the property. The vote was split, 2 to 2, so without the majority vote, the Planning Commission ultimately decided to recommend withholding the change and keeping it zoned as Agriculture. There was concern both with the Planning Commission and the Commissioners over the traffic in that particular area and the lack of sidewalks causing safety concerns for pedestrians.

The third property on North Church Street was under the consideration of being rezoned to General Commercial, as it currently stands as R-2 Residential. The owner of the property would like to develop the site with the combined larger parcel for a hotel. The added space zoned Commercial would give the property owner the flexibility needed to meet the open space requirement. The Planning Commission received numerous complaints from adjacent property owners and residents of the area all indicating the increase in traffic to the area and their opposition to the change in fear of a further increase in traffic. After taking into consideration the resident’s complaints, the Planning Commission decided to recommend that the piece of property up for consideration be kept as R-2 Residential.

The fourth property, located on East Main Street, was petitioned to be rezoned from R-2 Residential to Mixed Use Village II. The property owners simply wish to "catch up" and have their property zoned in accordance with the other surrounding properties/neighbors, which are all zoned as Mixed Use Village. The Planning Commission recommended this option.

The last property, on Emmitsburg Road, is currently zoned Agriculture and is petitioned to be rezoned to R-2 Residential. There was discussion over the traffic in the area, similarly to the Eyler property, and the potential number of lots to occupy the area, which was predicted to be about 40 to 50 potential lots. The Planning Commission agreed that seeing as the 23 acre property is considered medium density residential and would allow for residential development within the Town, it would be appropriate to recommend it be changed to R-2 Residential.

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