A proposal to annex almost 400 acres into the town of New Market is drawing a mixed reaction from those who live in and near the town and residents worried about protecting the environment.
About 50 people attended a public meeting Monday to discuss the proposed annexation of two properties, which, if approved, would almost double the town’s size.
The town council could make a decision on the annexations at the next town meeting, scheduled for Jan. 16.
Under the annexation proposals introduced by the five-member New Market Town Council on Aug. 10, the municipality’s limits would expand to include about 396 acres — an action town officials say will increase economic growth.
However, opponents of the annexations, including the local land-preservation group Friends of Frederick County, are concerned that it could lead to increased traffic, unchecked development and higher taxes.
“The Friends of Frederick County asks that the council vote against the annexations,” said Janice Wiles, executive director of the group.
Wiles said that the group is concerned about the impact of the annexations on the environment and town infrastructure, as well as the potential cost to residents.
A 134-acre plot on the northeastern border of the town, known as the Delaplaine property, is being considered for annexation under the town’s recently adopted “economic flex zoning” classification, which the council approved in September.
The designation allows newly-annexed properties to be used for commercial, office, technology, retail, service, and other job- and development-generating uses.
“I’m not really convinced that putting businesses up on that property will get jobs for people in New Market,” said Sarah Patton, who lives on Main Street. “I really see it as being a further strain on Main Street and the historic district.”
Also under consideration is the annexation of a 262-acre farm on the northwestern boundary of the town, known as the Smith/Cline property, for a medium-density residential zoning classification that would allow the construction of a 925-home subdivision called Hazelnut Run.
A road bypass extending Mussetter Road to Md. 75 is also planned to be built on the property.
Bob Schaefer, a board member of the Audubon Society of Central Maryland, said that he is opposed to the annexations because of the negative impact the bypass could have on the Fred Archibald Audubon Sanctuary in New Market.
The planned bypass, being built to help alleviate traffic in the town, would run along the southern edge of the 140-acre bird sanctuary on Boyers Mill Road if the annexations are approved.
“... It would be very costly and very disruptive to the beautiful valley of Cherry Run,” he said.
Town officials anticipate that property developers will pay for the building of the bypass, which is estimated to cost $14.5 million.
If the annexation is approved, the town will also benefit from the taxes associated with the properties, officials said.
In the past, town officials have expressed concern about not being able to take advantage of the property tax revenue if Frederick County takes it over.
Joe Oliverio, a New Market resident, said that he is for the annexation because it will give town residents control over the development of the properties.
“The whole point of the annexation is to ensure that we don’t have things forced upon us as a town...,” he said. “The nice thing about annexation is we decide if we want a bypass or not, and how that bypass is built ... If we do not control the property, then we have no control over what happens to our little town.”