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Woodsboro’s rapid growth likely to slow

Jeremy Hauck
The Gazette

(10/17) Woodsboro’s 912 residents should expect to have a few hundred additional neighbors to greet in the next two decades, planners believe.

Residents of Woodsboro’s historic downtown will also get their own community park, pending annexation of a 97-acre farm abutting the town’s northwestern edge. If built, the park would supplement the 87-acre Woodsboro Community Park, located west of Md. Route 194 and adjacent to the Copper Oaks subdivision.

‘‘The priority for annexation is Orren Stein’s farm," Hilari Varnadore, project planner for the Frederick County Division of Planning, and the town’s planning advisor, said Oct. 9. ‘‘[Residents and planners have] identified a need for a community park on the west side of the bypass, for safety, and to connect with the downtown for pedestrian and bicycle traffic."

The draft comprehensive plan does not give a size for the proposed park. Orren Stein, who has appeared at public meetings to support the town’s annexation of his farm, has not yet submitted a petition for annexation.

Planners at the municipal and county level say Woodsboro, designated as a secondary growth area in the Walkersville region, may be home to an additional 540 residents by 2027. The town will need at least 63 more acres to accommodate them, according the draft.

But after the town annexes Stein’s farm, and maybe a few more acres down the road, that’s probably the end of growth.

Mineral mines, steep slopes, forests, floodplains and preserved farms will hem the town in and prevent it from becoming as big as the region’s primary growth area, Walkersville.

That suits Woodsboro Commissioner Scott Brakebill, who serves as liaison to the town’s planning and zoning commission.

‘‘As far as growth is concerned ... the citizens’ survey [in 2006], at least, reflected that residents were satisfied with the growth – in other words, significantly less than what you’ve seen in other parts of Frederick County," Brakebill said last week. ‘‘That’s one of the things we paid attention to here."

So far, officials have held two discussion sessions on the draft plan with Woodsboro residents, in addition to an Oct. 9 open house. The town’s planning commission will hold two meetings on the draft – a public hearing and a vote – before sending it to the town’s board of commissioners for final approval, likely in 2008, according to Brakebill.

Woodsboro was founded in the northern end of Glade Valley by English national Joseph Wood Jr. in 1786, according to the plan. Its population grew slowly from 1900 until 1990, and then shot up by 399 residents – or 78 percent – between 1990 and 2007.

Officials have targeted two other areas for growth. A 61-acre tract of land along the western side of Main Street, on the south end of town, could accommodate light industry and about 60 housing units in the future, Varnadore said. Annexing more than 100 acres north of Coppermine Road could yield room for a further 162 housing units and additional open space.

‘‘Pretty much everything else is constrained by either floodplain, mineral mining or land preservation," Varnadore said.

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