With Taneytown in the process of annexing two parcels collectively known as the Sewell Property, Carroll County commissioners approved a waiver that will change the property’s zoning, allowing four homes per acre rather than one.
The annexation area, north of Taneytown, is in the county’s Agriculture Zoning District and has a land use designation of Conservation, Medium Density Residential, and Suburban Residential in the 2010 Taneytown Community Comprehensive Plan.
At last week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, Hannah Weber, a comprehensive planner with the county, said the annexation area consists of about 126 acres.
“Orienting ourselves, we have [Route] 140 to the south of the annexation area and then we have Harney Road … splitting it between the west annexation and the east annexation,” she said.
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.
Several county departments provided feedback on the annexation plan. Land and Resource Management expressed concern regarding water capacity and sewer allocation.
According to the Carroll County Water and Sewer Master Plan, Taneytown is currently at 88% capacity for water and 83% capacity for sewer.
The Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering, said annexing Harney Road from Route 140 to the northern intersection would create an illegal enclave, per Maryland state code.
“This happens because county land is in the middle of the city and would be completely surrounded by municipal land,” Weber said.
The Department of Zoning did not recommend commissioners support the annexation or zoning waiver because the proposed zoning is inconsistent with land-use designations in the 2010 Taneytown Community Comprehensive Plan, and also because of issues with water and sewer capacity and the fact that annexing Harney Road would create an illegal enclave.
However, Weber noted, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the annexation and zoning waiver request to commissioners.
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“The thinking is if we don’t begin this process now it’s going to be put off for as long as five years so we should try to move this process along,” said Commissioner Stephen Wantz, a District 1 Republican. “Are there some challenges here? Absolutely.”
Taneytown City Manager Jim Wieprecht said the city is working to acquire additional recharge acreage in order to ask the Maryland Department of the Environment to increase appropriation permits for wells.
“We believe we have capacity within our existing wells to serve this development and more, but we are limited by our recharge acreage,” he said, adding acquiring additional easements would allow the city to pump more water.
Regarding Harney Road, Wieprecht said the city can accept maintenance and ownership of the road without annexing it.
“The Sewell Property has been in the mix for development and annexation of Taneytown for about 10 years now,” said Clark Shaffer, the property owners’ attorney. “It’s a Christmas tree farm and the Sewells are getting old.”
Shaffer said that commissioners cannot deny the annexation; they can only deny the request to zone the property for higher density.
Taneytown will hold a public hearing on May 4 to receive feedback on the plan.