Frederick could grow with 550-acre annexation

The mayor and Board of Aldermen had their first public chance Wednesday to see what the city might gain or lose by annexing 550 acres.

Mayor Randy McClement said he would schedule as many workshops and meetings to discuss the topics as aldermen would like before the tentative vote on Sept. 6. All of the aldermen said they wanted to have time to ask many questions about schools and roads before casting a vote on proposals.

Aldermen Michael O’Connor and Kelly Russell said they wanted themselves and the public to have plenty of notice and time to consider the proposals, which will change traffic and school capacity over the course of 20 to 30 years of construction.

“I will not be restrained by the clock on these annexations,” O’Connor said.

Between the two proposals, aldermen said the things on the plus side are 75 acres of city parks, improvements to several overcrowded roads, bicycle and pedestrian paths, school sites and impact fees to pay for school construction. On the minus side is the increase in traffic and students that the two projects’ nearly 2,000 houses would bring.

The planning commission recommended that aldermen approve the Crum and Keller annexations with several conditions that guarantee historic site preservation, interconnected parks and road maintenance agreements.

Crumland owners want to annex 253 acres that adjoin the 285 acres that were annexed in 2009. The Crum development plan calls for 1,200 houses and 1.3 million square feet of nonresidential development west of U.S. 15 and north of Willowbrook Road.

The amount of development proposed at the Crum farm is not going to change, but the density and percentage of green space will if the annexation agreement is approved. There will be a 22-acre park, a 15-acre school site and green paths connecting to the city’s planned parks and trails.

If the annexation is approved, the school site will be dedicated during the first phase, which allows construction of 450 houses. The 2009 plan called for the school site to come as part of phase II, which must wait 15 years or longer until a new interchange is built at Biggs Ford Road and U.S. 15.

The Crum annexation will not require any more water or sewer service than what is allowed by the 2009 annexation agreement and will not substantially change student enrollment from what was projected in the original annexation.

A financial analysis by Crum representatives estimated that when development is completed in about 20 years it would add about half a million dollars per year to the city’s property tax revenue compared with the 2009 plan.

The Keller proposal involves 303 acres that city planners have expected to see come into the city for more than two decades, they said. The proposal is for just residential development, between 750 and 850 single-family houses and townhouses on property at Yellow Springs and Rocky Springs roads.

Keller neighbors including Paula Nunez and Meridythe Kelley want no development on the property, but low-density if any, they told aldermen Wednesday. Nunez said if that cannot be the case, she and her Clover Hill Civic Association asked that the higher-density housing go toward the center of the project and put single-family houses adjacent to other single-family houses on neighboring properties.

“We’ve never seen an annexation not go through,” Nunez said, so she hopes to make sure it is a good neighbor.

There is no master plan for the community yet. That is the usual process, which begins with annexation and moves into the plan approval stage later, city staff said.

At the plan approval stage, staff will determine whether water, sewer and school facilities are adequate to support the number of people who will live in the community, said Zach Kershner, deputy director of public works.

Keller has agreed to dedicate 45 acres, 20 percent of the site, for a city park, in addition to the neighborhood playgrounds and green space required by the land management code. The proposal includes $15 million worth of off-site road improvements at Christophers Crossing and Yellow Springs Road.

Alderwomen Carol Krimm and Karen Young said they want more information from county school staff about classroom capacity and sites.

Krimm said until there are new residents, the city is stuck having to pay $1.5 million a year for water system improvements and about $15 million for sewer improvements that were made to serve these and other predicted annexations.

“We’re already incurring the cost associated with this,” Krimm said.

Alderwoman Shelley Aloi said the discussions the developers have had so far with the planning commission, staff and aldermen are on the way to achieving something good for both the city and the developers.

Kelley said that if she had known Keller’s plans four years ago, she would not have bought her house on rural Yellow Springs Road. She did not want the city to stretch that far out.

Russell asked McClement to heavily advertise the future meetings about the annexations.

“I want people to have as much opportunity as possible,” Russell said.

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