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Union Bridge approves annexation of farmland

The Union Bridge Town Council approved last night the annexation of a farm where a developer plans to build hundreds of homes.

The 3-1 vote to annex the 126-acre parcel northwest of the town could mean construction beginning as early as next summer on the first homes to be built there in decades. The project, with another planned development, could triple the inhabitants of the 1,100-population town near the Carroll-Frederick county line.

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The council vote followed a brief discussion in which Union Bridge Mayor Bret D. Grossnickle said the town could cancel the agreement if the water supply were adversely effected.

The development known as The Villages at Union Bridge, with 370 homes in a mix of housing styles, would be built on the annexed land, said Edward E. Wormald, director of operations for Wormald Development Co. of Frederick. The land, known as the Bowman property, has long been eyed for development, according to town and Carroll County officials.

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"I think it's the town's responsibility to grow," Grossnickle said before last night's meeting.

"I'm for smart growth. ... We believed in that back when we annexed the Phillips property," he added, referring to a 120-acre site northeast of town that was annexed more than 12 years ago and is the site of a planned development called Jackson Ridge.

Local developer Martin K.P. Hill said he plans to build about 340 homes on the Phillips tract. Representatives of Hill's Woodhaven Building & Development Inc. have been working with the town planning commission to meet dozens of conditions, including a critical storm-water management plan, before construction can begin.

Hill's company has sought conditional approval of the concept plan while the work on a storm-water management plan continues. But Grossnickle said, "We can't do that. Storm-water management, that's a critical issue."

Together, the two developments could bring 2,000 residents to the town, said James L. Schumacher, the town's consultant.

"Thank you all for the vote of confidence on the annexation agreement," Wormald told the council. He said after the meeting that construction could begin by next summer or fall.

Thomas A. Krug, who moved to Union Bridge from South Baltimore about seven years ago, criticized the council's "unbridled rubber-stamping for development."

About two dozen people attended a public hearing last month at Town Hall, and Krug was one of the seven who expressed concerns about traffic, water and sewer, schools and fire protection.

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"It's like getting in a bathtub full of hot water," he said of the development. "You don't jump into it. You ease into it."


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