The Sykesville Mayor and Town Council denied a petition to annex a 9.7-acre property on Buttercup Road, Tuesday evening, after receiving a recommendation from its Planning Commission in October.
The petition to annex the property slated for rezoning and 45 townhouses went back to the Planning Commission Oct. 2 when the Town Council deferred it to them in late September for more detailed comments and consideration. The body hadn’t seen it since the Board of County Commissioners approved it and added conditions that the Sykesville section of the Carroll County Water and Sewer Master Plan would need to be edited to accommodate it, and the town would need to take on responsibility for the part of Raincliffe Road adjacent to the property.
Upon receiving the petition the Planning Commission recommended that the Mayor and Town Council ask the property owner to include not only the 9.7 acres they wanted to use for townhouses in the annexation, but the additional 1.7 acres of industrial property on the same parcel being used for a Baltimore Gas & Electric substation.
“The property owner, they are not in favor of having that piece of property annexed,” said Sykesville Town Manager Aretha Adams at the Nov. 27 meeting. “It’s currently industrial; they don't plan to further develop it.
“If you do move in this direction, we will have to go back through the process of getting comment through the state and county on the full annexation,” she said, “and we’d also like to get the land purchaser’s agreement as well.”
The property would then be subject to taxation from Sykesville, and the property owner said they did not see any benefits from adding the other piece.
J. Brooks Leahy, representative for the contract purchaser of the property, was not in favor of adding the additional 1.7 acres to the petition either.
“The annexation petition we filed is for the 9.7 acres,” he said. “It’s not for the additional amount. That’s not what’s before you. You obviously can deny our petition as it’s placed, but I think it’s really inappropriate to sort of try to strong-arm — we don't have any control over the people who own the 1.79 acre piece.
“The petition in front of you is for the residential piece,” said Leahy. “We’ve spent close to a year with this petition. We got the county to consent. Denying it and saying to start over is inappropriate.”
Leahy said the reapplication process — which could only move forward if the current property owners consent to the annexation of the property — could take another six to nine months. Plus, with a new Board of Commissioners and future elections in Sykesville, there is no certainty of approval if they do begin the lengthy process again from scratch.
The only two council members to vote in favor of approving the annexation were Alan Grasley and Christopher True, with the other members and Sykesville Mayor Ian Shaw in opposition.
“This is part of the Sykesville growth area,” Grasley said. “We have a builder that wants to spend some money in our town and develop the property, and I think the annexation is done. They did due diligence on it, commissioners approved it. It provides connectivity with the town, Warfield and Freedom Park. It connects to townhouses already there. I think we should approve it the way it is.”
Councilwoman Stacy Link said despite the lack of people sharing public comment, the project would affect many people not only in the immediate vicinity of the project but throughout the rest of Sykesville as well.
There should be more awareness spread about the potential development, she said.
“I feel like it would be shortsighted on our part as their representatives to speak when we really don’t have their feedback,” said Link. “Maybe we should be … broadcasting it more than the bare minimum or state required ways.”
But Councilwoman Julia Betz, on the other hand, said she didn’t agree.
“We’ve done plenty of advertising, and it’s been at the Planning Commission twice,” she said.
Betz said she would support the annexation if it included the entire parcel. As liaison to the Planning Commission, she was present at the meeting where it made the recommendation and said the commission felt strongly about its opinion.
Shaw said he felt the same way, and that he understood why the Planning Commission wanted to add the additional property to the annexation proposal.
“They wanted to capture some industrial base, which we don't have in the town,” he said. “They were trying to make it kind of, more palatable, instead of doing it piecemeal. They want some continuity.”
The majority of council members said they would support the annexation if the rest of the parcel were included, and that they wanted to wait for a new petition to give the annexation a green light.
“I’m opposed only because I want the other piece,” Shaw said.