MOUNT AIRY — Mount Airy Town Council President Peter Helt called to order a public hearing on the proposed Dorseytown Annexation shortly before 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, after the town planning commission rejected the petition for annexation in July.
One resident testified on behalf of her mother in opposition to the annexation, citing economic stresses associated with officially joining the town.
“She’ll have to obtain her town hookup. There’s an additional cost to hook up from the street to the home,” said Robin Thomas Johnson, a Mount Airy resident whose mother lives in Dorseytown. “She’ll have to pay a water bill every quarter. In addition to [Carroll] County taxes, she’ll have to pay the town taxes.”
Johnson said her mother’s well was still intact and suggested it’d be unfair for her to have to accrue the water and sewer fees.
She added that she was concerned that her mother and other residents would be overburdened by costs associated with improving the road encompassed by the the approximately 12.6-acre lot that’s surrounded on all sides by incorporated Mount Airy.
Frall Developers Inc., one of the petitioners, proposed to pay water and sewer connection fees for existing Dorseytown residents, according to a letter addressed to the town council by Noel Manalo, an attorney representing the petitioner.
Sheela Cook, who said her family and ancestors have lived in Mount Airy and Dorseytown for four generations, testified in favor of annexing the 18-parcel lot.
“The cook family and our neighbors in Dorseytown have provided economic growth, I believe, support in commerce and we’ve also contributed to this community for a number of years,” Cook said.
She spoke of much change in Mount Airy.
“There’s even diversity. But the one thing that unfortunately for me remains the same is that Dorseytown still appears to be exiled from the rest of this community. …” she said.
“Property owners in Dorseytown still don’t have access to [Mount Airy] water and sewer. The house that I grew up in at 1313 Ellis Road still to this very day does not have water or sewer. The well that we had went dry a number of years ago.”
Cook said she understood some of her neighbors’ hesitance to support the annexation, but that they might have a different perspective if their wells stopped working.
“My question for everyone here tonight is what will they do when the well goes dry?” she asked. “It could, it has to some individuals.”
John Breeding, Mount Airy planning administrator, in a memorandum to the Town Council wrote that the commission recommended not to envelop lot because Mount Airy lacks water necessary to accommodate existing or additional homes in the proposed annexation, worried about capacity issues at Carroll County Public Schools that would serve the annexed community and “a general lack of public benefit from the town from this annexation.”
In a report to the mayor and council, town staff also recommended the petition be rejected.
Manolo, of Miles & Stockbridge P.C. in Frederick, said in his letter to council that the current and projected water and sewer needs for the property in consideration are a drop in the bucket.
The water needs “are negligible, when compared to the overall residential usage of the town,” he wrote. And if Dorseytown wells continue to fail, the burden will fall on the shoulders of Mount Airy anyways, he noted.
“If wells continue to fail, then the town will ultimately be serving residences within the property in any event,” the attorney wrote.
Cook explained that she’s been left with the family’s Dorseytown property since her father’s death in the early 2000s. The well dried up — there’s no water and sewer.
“I have a piece of land that I can’t live on it, I can’t rent it, I can do nothing with it other than pay to have the grass mowed there because there’s no water and sewer,” she said.
Cook and her real estate agent Laytonya Ballard told the council that they’d had offers lined up, as recently as May 21, contingent upon the annexation and connection to the town water and sewer.
“So what will become of the families, the property owners in Dorseytown?” Cook asked. “Will the legacy and the assets of the cook family and other families that live their be forced to be just like my well and be dried up?”
Latest Carroll County News
Cook and others will have to wait until the Jan. 7 mayor and council meeting to know the answer, as the council, based on advice from town attorney Tom McCarron, decided to hold off voting on the annexation until the next time the lawmakers convened.