Mount Airy eyes farm annexation for development

May 27, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

The town of Mount Airy will grow by 137 acres if a proposal to annex a site north of Buffalo Road is approved by the Town Council.

The annexation request was made by Magna Holdings Inc. of Baltimore, which has a contract to purchase the farmland owned by Leo and Elizabeth Kraft.

Magna plans to build 180 to 200 single-family houses if the annexation proposal is accepted, said Steven Koren, the company's development manager.

The town's Planning and Zoning Commission recommended at its Monday night meeting that the council approve the annexation of the Kraft property, which would add 137 acres to the town's current 2,366.

Town Planner Teresa Bamberger said the proposed development would bring some much-needed improvements to the town, including the extension of Watersville Road, a new well and new ball fields.

"Every property in town has some issues to deal with as far as appropriate and attractive development, and the opportunities are there to make this a nice project," she said.

Ms. Bamberger will present the planning commission's annexation recommendation to the Town Council at its June 6 meeting. Before making a decision on the Kraft proposal, she said, the council probably will send the plan to county and state agencies for a 60-day review. The council will also schedule a public hearing on the annexation before taking action.

"We want to get input from the community so that there's a real mesh" of the developer's and residents' concerns, Mr. Koren said.

As part of the annexation agreement, the developer would be required to complete the extension of Watersville Road to Buffalo Road in the first phase of the development.

According to conservative traffic estimates, the new development could add 1,500 daily car trips to Watersville Road, increasing traffic by 50 percent, Ms. Bamberger said.

The extended road would provide access from the new development directly to Route 27 via Watersville Road, alleviating traffic congestion on Main Street.

She said this extension was identified as a priority road project in Mount Airy's 1994 master plan. "This is something the town would really like to see happen," she said.

Ms. Bamberger said residents already have expressed concerns about speeding on Watersville Road, because of its proximity to Mount Airy Elementary and Middle schools. If the road is expanded, additional traffic will compound the problem.

"We have to ensure that options are available to slow the traffic down and make sure that the intersections can handle the additional traffic and accommodate pedestrian traffic, especially the children," she said.

As a condition of approval of the Kraft annexation, the developer would be required to develop and dedicate a well on the property to the town to offset the increased water demand created by the development.

Initial testing of the well indicates a yield of 351,000 gallons per day, and anticipated demand from the new development is 50,000 gallons per day, Ms. Bamberger said.

Mr. Koren said the test well was built by another developer who considered developing the property.

To meet open space requirements, Magna Holdings must set aside 10 percent of the property for open space or recreational purposes. Ms. Bamberger said this land would probably be used by the town's Parks and Recreation commission for additional ball fields.

To accommodate the sewage needs of the proposed development, Ms. Bamberger said, Mount Airy should move forward as soon as possible with plans to upgrade the town's sewage treatment plant.

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