550-unit housing development proposed in New Market area

·4 min read

Jul. 21—A 550-unit, age-restricted development with affordable housing is proposed in the New Market area.

Turnpike Farm Limited Partnership and Eng-Land Acres LLC, the property owners, have petitioned the town to annex about 93 acres for the development into the corporate limits of New Market.

The property is north of Old National Pike and east of Well Spring Way, according to the petition for annexation.

The July 14 mayor and town council meeting marked the first step in what could be a long approval process. Project manager T. Wesley Poss, representing developer England Woods LLC, estimated the earliest that people could live in new homes there is five years from now.

If the property is not annexed, it would remain part of Frederick County. Should the property be annexed to New Market, the town would gain tax revenue from new residents and the town would have more say in the planning of the development, according to Mayor Winslow Burhans III.

The developer proposed to build a mixture of single-family townhouses for purchase and multifamily units for rent, Poss said, the latter of which would be affordable housing. In the affordable units, residents would not spend more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities, he said.

Poss described trails, a garden, a gazebo, a clubhouse, a pool and a bocce ball court as amenities planned for the community.

Some residents have expressed interest in the potential development already, according to Poss, wanting a place for their aging parents to live nearby. He said the development's proximity to downtown New Market is particularly attractive with its shops and restaurants.

Poss said the age restriction would be 55, the minimum age for at least one resident at a residence. School-age children would not be allowed to live in the community.

The town would provide trash services, according to Poss, while the homeowners association would maintain open space and private roads.

"The type of community is the perfect addition to New Market," Poss said.

During public comment at the July 14 meeting, several residents expressed concern over how the development could affect traffic, particularly through The Meadow neighborhood next door.

Poss said the developer submitted an extensive traffic study to the town that proposes ways to mitigate traffic concerns. The developer is proposing $1.6 million in contributions toward road escrows and road improvements before the first house is built, according to Poss.

The property is designated for growth in the county's master plan and also designated for annexation and growth in the town's comprehensive plan, Poss said.

Anticipating public interest, the town will hold two workshops in August. The town engineer will be present for a workshop Aug. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Grange at 14 South Alley to discuss traffic concerns. Poss said he will also be present.

Then, on Aug. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Grange, the developer's team will hold an open house to give an overview of the project and answer questions from the public. The town staff will also be present.

On July 14, Councilmen Shane Rossman, Michael Wright, Chris Weatherly and Matthew Chance voted to introduce the annexation resolution. Councilman Dennis Kimble left the meeting earlier and was not present for the vote.

In an interview, Burhans said the town is required by statute to set up hearings and workshops when someone petitions the town for annexation. He said part of a town's role is to plan to accommodate growth.

Burhans emphasized that the July 14 meeting was the start of a long process and that the annexation was not yet voted upon.

"It's a three-, four-, maybe five-month-long process from going from an introduction, to a public hearing, to a final decision," he said at the meeting.

In other business, the town council:

— Voted to form a work group to explore improving a mountain bike trail in the 100 Acre Woods.

— Voted to recognize September as National Recovery Month, to allow a temporary memorial to be set up in Community Park and to allow purple decorations to be placed around town for recovery month.

— Discussed concerns about the end of school bus service to New Market Elementary students residing in The Orchard and Brinkley Manor subdivisions.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller