UNION BRIDGE -- Before voters decide the fate of the Phillips property, its owner plans a personal campaign.
"I might go with the mayor to a few houses, or I might hang out at Elwood's [Myers Super Thrift Market] for a while," said Dr. G. Jackson Phillips. "I want to be available to answer questions about the property."
On Aug. 3, residents here will vote whether to annex the 110-acre site north of town. Dr. Phillips said he hopes to sway any voters still on the fence.
"I also want to meet with town leaders to encourage them to get out the vote," he said. "I want to be sure voters have the facts."
After several public hearings and three years of work to hammer out an agreement, the Town Council voted unanimously in April to annex the site. If developed as planned, the property, along Route 75 and Bark Hill Road, would include about 400 homes and could double the town's population of 917.
"The growth would be gradual, maybe over 10 years," Dr. Phillips said.
Last month, residents opposed to the annexation gathered enough signatures -- 124 of the 455 registered voters -- to put the proposal to a vote as a referendum item.
"A lot of the opposition comes from people who don't want to see any change in the town," said Dr. Phillips, who lives and maintains a dental practice in Towson. "They either don't realize how depressed the Union Bridge area is or they don't care. The town needs a better tax base, and development can provide that."
Dr. Phillips has worked with John and Wayne Newsome, Howard County Developers, since 1989.
"We have spent about $300,000 and shared the costs of testing and drilling a well, cleaning out a quarry, and conducting rock studies," he said. "We are at the point now where we can develop the land."
The new well on the Phillips property would provide a much-needed backup to the town's one-well system. Developers also have agreed to spend about $80,000 to build a pump house and connect pipes into the town system.
"If the annexation is rejected and the town has to seek another water source, it could cost as much as $200,000," Dr. Phillips said. "Residents would be assessed for that cost, too. The money wouldn't fall out of the sky."
Upgrades to the town's aging and inefficient sewer system are also "locked in" if annexation passes, he said. The town planners would retain "total control" over every step of the process, he said.
"I would hope that when the people vote, they realize the benefits of this development," he said.
Dr. Phillips also downplayed concerns about increased traffic and crowded schools.
"Future plans show a decline in enrollment at the elementary school," he said. "Most of the development's traffic would filter onto Route 75."
One access road out of the development would open onto Bark Hill Road, and Lehigh Portland Cement Co.'s trucks would be rerouted away from residences, he said.