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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Deadline moved up for collecting signatures on petition to force special election on Taneytown annexation

The leader of Envision Taneytown said Thursday that the town moved up by two days a deadline to submit 1,000 signatures on a petition the group is working on to force a special election on annexation of the Sewell farm property.

Envision Taneytown started the petition drive almost a month ago, and has so far collected about 500 signatures. The group needs 1,000 by Wednesday in order to bring the petition to the town and force a special election on the issue.

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Jim Thomas, who leads Envision Taneytown, said he had believed the deadline to submit the needed signatures to the town for verification was Friday, Aug. 26, but he learned Thursday that the town would now require the signatures by Wednesday, Aug. 24. He said volunteers would be knocking on doors during the next several days to collect the needed signatures.

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The deadline date is 45 days after July 11, when the Taneytown City Council voted to accept annexation of the farm, which would add 126 acres to the city’s jurisdiction.

Thomas said Thursday that the town was counting July 11 as day one, and so the deadline was moved up.

Signing the petition does not designate whether the voter is for or against the annexation, but rather the desire that this issue be decided by the registered voters of the town.

According to Maryland law 20% of a town’s registered voters can petition to bring a vote on an issue to town residents. This is called a referendum petition.

If they make the deadline and garner the needed signatures, the town must hold a special election on the annexation and allow registered voters to cast their ballots, Taneytown Mayor Bradley Wantz said last week.

Taneytown has been in the process of annexing two parcels of the Sewell property for about 10 years. In April, the Carroll Board of County Commissioners approved a waiver that changed the zoning of the farm, located on Harney Road, allowing for four homes per acre rather than one.

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The annexation area was in the county’s Agriculture Zoning District and had a land use designation of Conservation, Medium Density Residential and Suburban Residential in the 2010 Taneytown Community Comprehensive Plan.

The farm, owned by the Sewell family, consists of 126 acres. The west parcel totals 116 acres and the east parcel 10 acres.

The west annexation would consist of 39 acres designated conservation and 77 acres medium-density residential, while the east annexation would be 10 acres of suburban residential space.

Thomas said preliminary sketch plans calls for 318 homes there.

“Given the impact of such a large development, a number of local residents believe that the voters of the town should decide this annexation question and not the council,” a document from the petition group, states.

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But Wantz said development of the property has not been discussed by the town.

“The city is not prepared to take in that many homes,” he said. “This is going to take time. The discussion simply isn’t there yet. We have to prepare the city, and that’s not the case.”

Services such as water and sewer are not adequate to handle a large housing development.

According to the Carroll County Water and Sewer Master Plan, Taneytown is at 88% capacity for water and 83% capacity for sewer.

Wantz also said the town wanted to annex the property from the county so that they had control over what will happen with it.

“We want to control growth as much as possible,” he said.

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Currently, the town has a population of about 8,000 residents, Wantz said, adding that “the city’s ultimate maximum population is estimated to be 10,000 residents,” due to surrounding properties being designated in the agriculture preservation district.


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