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Long-range plan could stave off Sykesville's annexation proposal

Sykesville Mayor Jonathan Herman said last week he's looking forward to helping create a master plan for the future of the historic Springfield Hospital Center campus -- rather than annex the property into the town -- now that state officials have agreed to meet with town officials.

"I'm actually much more interested creating a dialogue than annexing the property," Herman said. "I feel the state talking to us, and talking to us like a stock holder in the area, we will be just as well served."

A master plan is a document that serves as a tool for officials to determine the appropriate uses for land and buildings.

In the wake of the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene's decision to locate a new Secure Evaluation & Therapeutic Treatment program at Sykesville -- without any discussion with the town -- Herman and other town officials had announced a proposal to annex the property into Sykesville.

The SETT program hosts patients who are mentally impaired and who have been charged with a crime, but are either found incompetent to stand trial or not criminally responsible.

But since then, Herman said he spoke to Gov. Martin O'Malley about planning for the campus.

"The discussions of annexation were more about creating a dialogue," Herman said.

He said the governor is expected to send Planning Sec. Richard Hall to Sykesville to have a meeting about a plan for the campus. No meeting has been scheduled yet, said Marco Merrick, director of communications for the Maryland Department of Planning.

"We tried to impress upon him with a brilliant little saying, 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,'" Herman said. "We're hoping they see the merit in that, and that planning is a good thing and they should consider it."

Town officials had been considering an annex plan, even studying parts of Springfield that would be included.

Town Manager Matt Candland unveiled a map at the Monday, Nov. 24 mayor and Town Council meeting that showed the approximate 1,000-acre Springfield property including the Maryland State Police Training Commission and its driving course, vacant farmland and the Department of Corrections property. The presentation gave the council a picture of what type of properties are involved.

While Herman wants to focus on creating a master plan, Candland said that annexing Springfield would be a good idea.

"I think annexation makes good planning sense for the town," he said. Candland said annexation would allow the town to sort of "be at the table if the state changes" its ideas on Springfield property.


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