400 acres of Thurmont land sold

THURMONT — The sale of more than 400 acres was approved Tuesday night by town officials.

The vote was 3-2, with Mayor Martin Burns and Commissioner Ron Terpko voting against the sale.

The mayor said he had been in favor of the sale, noting the town can use the money for capital projects at the water department.

“I have concerns,” Burns said, “such as where does the state come up with $1.4 million when the state is supposed to be broke?”

Burns said he questioned whether the land, 507 acres with the town retaining 80 acres of its watershed, could be worth more than the $1.4 million offered by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The land would be added to Cunningham Falls State Park, according to state officials.

The 80 acres retained by the town contains a storage tank for water that is pumped from wells used for Thurmont’s water supply.

Commissioners Bill Buehrer, Wayne Hooper and John Kinnaird voted for the sale. Buehrer motioned for the vote, with Hooper seconding.

The mayor then asked for a vote on an amendment that would allow him to personally question some appraisers to see if the value of the land could be more than offered by DNR.

Terpko agreed. “I know we can use the money, but I don’t think it is enough money,” he said.

The amendment was approved 4-1, which would also allow the mayor to bring up the land sale at the next meeting, Aug. 7, with any additional findings or comments at that time. Buehrer voted against the amendment.

The officials noted there were no other bidders for the land. Bill Blakeslee, town administrator, said the land was of no value for timber to the town and that the town would continue to have access to its reservoir tank through state park land.

“We don’t know what could happen in the future,” Blakeslee said. “A different (state) administration. (Gov. Robert) Ehrlich wanted to sell state land, (Gov. Martin) O’Malley wants to buy land,” Blakeslee said.

Kinnaird said that getting an appraisal could result in one for the town saying the land was worth one price, an appraiser for the DNR saying another price and a third appraiser somewhere in between.

No town residents attended the meeting.

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