A well-known developer has petitioned the Town of Manchester to annex a piece of property into town limits as part of a plan to add 40 new single-family homes.
The town council voted in its July meeting to approve the annexation plan for the project known as the “Lippy Annexation.” This action sends the plan out for review by the state and county planing departments, but it was not a vote on whether to go forward with the annexation itself. The agencies will look at whether the plan strains infrastructure like roads and schools.
The Lippy property is currently an enclave of about 25 acres at 2828 Hanover Pike, which sits across Md. 30 from Manchester Valley High School, that is not inside town limits, whereas surrounding land is.
Woodhaven Building & Development Inc., a land development company from Manchester headed by Martin K.P. Hill, petitioned the town to annex the piece of land. They are looking to combine three parcels of land, including the Lippy property, into a maximum of 40 single-family homes, according to the plan documents.
The annexation of the Lippy property would make the process easier because all of the land in question would be under one jurisdiction, according to attorney Brafford Webb, who represented the development group. Hill, along with and Martin W. Hackett from the Westminster-based civil engineering company CLSI, were also in attendance.
Webb said at the meeting that the idea of combining the three lots was not new, and was brought to the town in 2016. Back then, he said, the planning commission was favorable to the idea, but the annexation wasn’t yet considered in the town’s comprehensive plan.
The comprehensive plan was updated in 2018, and the Lippy property was included in the growth area. Discussions in the July meeting, however, ran into a sticking point over the water and sewer resources that would be needed for a development on the land.
The question goes all the way back to negotiation in 1991 between the town and the property owners at that time. The town granted the owners certain water and sewer benefits in exchange for the property to build a pumping station.
The current disagreement is whether the 1991 deal means there is a reserved water and sewer allocation for the property. Webb said they believe there is an existing agreement that provides a water and sewer allocation.
Members of town staff would not agree that allocation is guaranteed by the 1991 documents.
“That’s given staff and the petitioner heartburn for many many years,” Town Administrator Steve Miller said.
The town added a comment to the plan stating that the property is in the town’s water and sewer service area, but the matter of the allocation would need further review.
Hill said he believes minutes from 2016 show a “much different” attitude on the part of the Planning and Zoning Commission, but that will have to be worked out.
“We at this point agree not to agree,” Town Attorney Thomas McCarron said.
In the plan that went to the county and state agencies for review, the town included comments from the developers, as well as the response from the town about the water situation. In the document, town planning staff also noted that school capacity could be a concern for the development and that it would add additional traffic in the surrounding area on Md. 30. If more water and sewer capacity were needed, the improvements would come at the cost of the developer.
A public hearing on the annexation plan is set for Manchester’s October meeting, so that it can take place after the state and county reviews are finished and any comments received. After the public has had a chance to comment, then the council would schedule a vote on whether to annex.