A proposal to annex a 144-acre property into Middletown — and the new, low-density development that could come with it — faces concerns about water usage following a vote by the town's commissioners.

The commissioners voted 4-1 Monday night not to pursue an attempt to get the Maryland Department of the Environment to allocate the town extra water for the property's eventual development.

The annexation of the AC Jets property along U.S. 40 Alternate west of Hollow Road can still continue on to public hearings before the town's commissioners and Planning Commission toward an eventual vote on approval.

But Monday's vote was not the result they were looking for, said Bruce Dean, an attorney for the applicants.

“It's unfortunate,” Dean said Tuesday, adding his clients were hoping to work collaboratively with the town on a process that could find more water and create a gateway project on the eastern edge of the town.

The commissioners' decision not to pursue the so-called “Brinkley Bill” option — which allows MDE to give priority to municipalities when allocating water in Frederick, Carroll, and Washington counties — would dramatically complicate planning for the project.

The Hollow Creek aquifer, where the property is located, is over-allocated, meaning water for developing the project would have to come from another aquifer.

The site isn't expected to be developed for about 10 years, even if the annexation is approved.

The annexation proposal has run into resistance from members of the community, Burgess John Miller said before the vote.

Even with the potential of getting more water allocated from the state, trying to explain to residents why they would push MDE to allocate more water from an aquifer that is already over-allocated sounds ridiculous, he said.

In a letter in September, the applicants asked the town to consider allowing the project to have water allocated from the Cone Branch aquifer when the project is developed some time in the next 10 years. Otherwise, they proposed the Brinkley Bill policy to request more allocation for the Hollow Creek aquifer from MDE.

The development proposal would provide 132 acres of low-density residential units and 12 acres of general commercial property along U.S. 40 Alternate.

Public hearings before the burgess and commissioners and the Planning Commission will likely be held in late November or early December, Town Administrator Drew Bowen said Tuesday.

If the application is denied, the owners could apply for another annexation petition after a year, he said.

But Dean said he doesn't expect any rush to reapply if the application is pulled or gets denied.

“The town needs to want it to happen,” he said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter: @RMarshallFNP

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(14) comments

Jane and Ed

The Maryland Department of the Environment would have slapped another 10 year moratorium on building if the Town asked them to allocate extra water for more development.

shiftless88

Who would have guessed that a developer bought land and now wants something from the city/county in order to make it viable.

Plumbum

Probably thought Ba’Lane going would still be in office

Plumbum

Lenny Thompson, from Walkersville once said “no more development in Walkersville unless the developer pays to upgrade the water system”

Great thinking!

JustTrying

I disagreed with Lenny on many things, but he was 100% right about this.

Dwasserba

Water will be the new oil. Heard that someplace. Also “The site isn't expected to be developed for about 10 years, even if the annexation is approved.” And low density at that! Without a time machine?!

jjeeffff

Thank goodness solid reasoning, thought and public pressure prevailed.

gabrielshorn2013

"...hoping to work collaboratively with the town on a process that could find more water and create a gateway project on the eastern edge of the town."

Find more water? Is the developer proposing a way to make more? The aquifer in that area is all there is. Does Middletown need a "gateway project" outside of the municipal boundary, as this would be? What is wrong with the current "gateway project" inside the municipal boundary that includes a grocery, dental office, dry cleaner, and a CVS across the street?

mrnatural1

Great comment Gabriel. [thumbup][thumbup]

Once again, you saved me some typing.

In the RC zoned area where my wife and I live, the minimum lot size is 10 aces (was 5) and what has restricted development as much or more than that is that much of the land will not pass a perc test.

In both cases Mother Nature is the ultimate restriction on rampant, greed-fueled development.

jamesnee

The trend is swiftly moving toward complete modular infrastructure systems; it will prove effective in several ways including storm management.

public-redux

“… create a gateway project on the eastern edge of the town.”

AKA, a strip mall and a townhouse development.

TomWheatley

Another 10 years will make no difference in depleting an aquifer that takes centuries to develop. Didn't Middletown learn their lessons when they allowed 3 golf courses and had to tap into Myersville for that water?

Piedmontgardener

The Town apparently can do math on water. Kudos.

Jim Hartley

Amen.

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