MOUNT AIRY - The proposed Western annexation is besieged from all sides.

Many residents who live next to the 81 acres targeted for town houses and apartments are fuming; town planners have urged the Town Council to kill the request; and Frederick County officials think Frall Developers' plan for part of the land calls for more units than is appropriate.

But the controversial annexation request will get a long look from the council, mainly because of one factor: water.

The developer says the land could provide water -- lots of it. And in a town struggling to meet its water needs, the idea of adding land that could contribute significantly to the water supply is attractive.

With that in mind, some of the 120 people who turned out for a public hearing Monday pleaded with the council not to approve annexation simply to obtain water.

"Please don't let Frall Developers throw the water issue out in front of you like a carrot," said William Jones of Westridge Drive.

Amid hissing and murmurs from the audience, Frall's attorney, William Fallon, asked for accord, saying all involved stood to gain from the annexation.

"I submit, through all these snickers, that we need compromise on these annexations," he said. "If the town believes the water is essential, (everyone) will have to make concessions if it's going to work."

Many residents remained unswayed.

"Growth is good. Capitalism is good. But Frall's greed is not good," said Jones. "Sacrificing the growth of Mount Airy and the harmony of our town for Frall's greed is wrong."

Those who live in the Westridge and New Estates developments have voiced the loudest objections to the proposal, mostly because they loathe Frall's plans for 120 to 260 town house and apartment units next to their neighborhoods of single-family homes.

"This is a classic example of overreaching by a hell-bent developer," said Steven Quarles, a Mattie Haines Road resident and member of the Woodville District Civic Association.

In addition to Frall's 81 acres, located in Frederick County just north of Prospect Road, the petition includes 12 acres owned by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. All the land is zoned for agriculture, and Frall is requesting that it be brought into the town under the highest-density residential zoning.

Residents packed the Town Hall during earlier Planning Commission hearings on the petition, so the council moved its hearing to the Fire Department's Activities Building off Twin Arch Road.

The residents say they are upset because they were never told about plans for town houses and apartments nearby when they bought their homes. Some shudder at the idea of neighborhood cul-de-sacs being extended to link up with an apartment complex.

"We paid extra for cul-de-sac lots," North Annapolis Drive resident Richard Bricker said Monday. "Now we're being told something else."

Just how many units would be built remains uncertain, adding to the residents' confusion and anger. The developer originally mentioned 260 units. Fallon said Monday that the final number likely would be less than 200.

"We won't know that until we get it processed," Fallon said.

The size of the plot proposed for annexation actually shrank slightly at Monday's meeting. David Borisky, who completed purchase this week of the seven-acre tract owned by JCA Investments, announced he was withdrawing the land from the petition.

Though most of the speakers lashed out against the Mount Airy developer and its president, James Frey, the company was not completely without support.

"Everyone's trying to paint Jim Frey as a greedy developer," said George Harne, a Buffalo Road resident. "But I guarantee that if you work with Jim, he'll work with you. He's a businessman, like some of you."

Also on Monday, the council heard public comment on the 33-acre Northern annexation request, a portion of which is targeted by Frall for commercial development.

To annex the land, located in Carroll County along the west side of North Main Street, the town would have to take in the small community of Dorseytown, made up mostly of low- and moderate-income homes. Some residents live without indoor plumbing.

An attorney representing several residents opposed to the annexation said the costs of plumbing and hook-up fees to town water and sewer would be overwhelming.

But Fallon said there are county and state assistance programs to help defray such costs.

One resident, Asa Dorsey, said the annexation is long overdue.

"Annexation of Dorseytown has been kicked around for 15 or 20 years," he said. "Do we have to wait another 20 years to get the quality of life we want, or do we continue to live like we did 50 years ago?"

Votes on both annexation requests are expected at the monthly council meeting in October or November.

Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990

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