Union Bridge prepares for annexation vote Town meeting sets stage for controversial issue

July 29, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

UNION BRIDGE -- Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. used Monday's council session to rally support for the Phillips annexation.

The Town Council had unanimously approved the annexation in April. A petition for referendum, signed by 124 registered voters here, put that action on hold and gave town residents the final decision on the property.

The vote will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at Town Hall.

Before opening the floor to questions, the mayor asked nearly 50 people attending the meeting to refrain from repeating concerns aired in several public hearings.

"We are here to answer questions," he said. "But, we are not

going to listen to the things we have heard for the last three years."

Dr. G. Jackson Phillips, owner of the 170-acre property north of town, spoke first.

"A lot of thought went into the annexation, which the developers and town officials hammered out for three years," said Dr. Phillips, who lives and maintains a dental practice in Towson. "We all finally signed it because it will benefit the town."

A well has already been drilled on the site and will be dedicated to the town, if annexation is approved. Developers also have placed money in escrow to pay for any necessary upgrades to the town's sewer system or any other public improvements, related to the development, said the mayor.

"You shouldn't think of this as just another water source," said Dr. Phillips. "It's also a way to increase the tax base and draw business here."

The mayor said that, until the population increases here, attracting industry will be difficult. In the past few months, two restaurants have closed on Main Street.

"Businesses ask what is the population and how long has it been at that number," said the mayor. "We have to say it's been at 900 forever."

About 110 acres of the property could be developed -- with four units per acre -- and eventually, double the size of the town. If annexed, the town planners would have "total control" of the development, said the mayor.

"Why not reduce that number to two per acre?" asked John Scott of Benedum Street. "Then, I don't think you would have a single objection to the development."

Yvette Viviani, of Broadway, said she was concerned about the number of town houses and maintenance of open space areas in the planned development.

Gordon Fronk, Dr. Phillips' attorney, said the exact number and type of units is "absolutely unknown" at this point.

"Are you asking us to trust you," asked Mr. Scott.

"No, I am asking you to trust your council," the Towson attorney answered. "They have final approval on every aspect."

Mr. Fronk said economics would control the type and number of units contractors build.

"This agreement is the most restrictive I have ever seen," said the attorney. "The gist of it is not to create a burden on the present residents. The development will be self-supporting and create a greater tax base."

The mayor urged the town's 455 registered voters to participate in the referendum. Sample copies of the ballot and absentee ballots are available at the Town Hall.

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