Developer Cross & Company has begun the approval process for a mixed-use development in Thurmont.
The Thurmont Board of Commissioners and Mayor John Kinnaird approved a petition for annexation by Daniel Cross of Cross & Company during a Tuesday night meeting.
The development, which Cross described as an “affordable mixed-use inter-generational community,” will be located on a 24.5-acre piece of property on Apples Church Road. The land is partially in Thurmont and partially out of town, meaning the Board of Commissioners will have to annex the property, said town planner Chris Jakubiak. At the same time it’s annexed, the properties will also have to be rezoned from agricultural to residential.
Cross did not specify how many units there will be but said the property will be “high-density” and largely be comprised of townhouses. There will also be “two-over-two,” townhouse-style condominiums, which will have four floors total.
Cross’ goal for the development is to bring the “neighborhood” feeling back to the suburbs. He believes residents should have necessities like child care and gyms in their own communities so they do not have to drive for essential services.
“I’m a strong advocate that if you can deliver a child to daycare in a stroller instead of a carseat, we should do so. So let’s build day care centers in neighborhoods, not in commercial strip centers,” Cross said.
However, he acknowledges that retail might not have a space in the new neighborhood.
“In the days of Amazon, most neighborhood retail stores are going to be dead,” Cross said at the meeting. “But is it appropriate to get a small exercise facility, a small yoga studio, a pop-up flex space … so that you’re doing stuff in your neighborhood and not getting into your car?”
In addition to day care, Cross said the neighborhood will support older residents who do not want to live in senior-specific housing.
“Especially in the times of COVID, think of the number of people who have moved out of facilities and back in with their families, and did we set up our housing to do that ahead of time?” Cross said. “By and large, no.”
The development is also projected to have community spaces, victory gardens, spots for food trucks and stormwater management solutions. The commissioners agreed stormwater management is a topic for future discussion, as the property is located on a hill.
The petition for annexation will next go to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 28, where the commission will make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners, said Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick.
There are still several more steps that will need to be taken to get the development approved for construction, including approval by the Frederick County Council. Construction would likely not start until next year, said Jakubiak. But he’s confident the Planning and Zoning Commission will feel the development matches the town’s current plans for growth.
“The current master plan shows this area as a future growth area, making it eligible for annexation,” he said. “The town’s master plan also identifies this as high-density residential. So far so good, because this proposal is a higher-density residential neighborhood.”
There will be several opportunities for public comment in the coming months. Cross does not currently have a timeline for the project.