Route 346 Corridor Planning Commission Meeting

BERLIN – Builders working on projects on Route 346 in
Berlin may soon be subject to new aesthetic requirements intended to transform
the industrial and commercial look of the road into something more fit for one
of Berlin’s main entrances.

Berlin Planning Commission members had a Route 346
corridor plan on their minds at Wednesday’s meeting after considering plans for
two commercial development projects this week.

Planning Commission Chair Pete Cosby said the Route 346
corridor plan needs to be initiated at a higher level. He went on to say the
town most likely needs to enact an ordinance “aggressively seeking to get this
boulevard right.”

The road is a hodgepodge of industrial sites including the
now defunct Tyson plant, small businesses, professional buildings, and gas
stations.

“We’ve been talking about it for four years. Maybe it’s
time to get a little aggressive,” said Cosby.

The plan would govern architectural elements such as brick
color, buried utilities, sidewalks and street trees. The Planning Commission
habitually asks applicants about building materials, architectural details,
landscaping and parking, whether in front or behind the building.

Cosby said one of the projects under consideration
currently called Decatur Crossing would probably be the first substantial
improvement on the north side of the street.

“We’ve got major stuff coming in. Let’s do it right,” said
Cosby. “It could be very attractive and it’s a benefit to everyone.”

The Crossroads office complex prompted a different concern
related to Route 346: increased traffic on an already busy road. The existing
site entrance lies right between the Your Store convenience store at the corner
of Routes 113 and 346 and the Rite Aid pharmacy.

Developer Troy Purnell said that his efforts to work with
Rite Aid to build one entrance for both sites, at his expense, were met with a
rude negative.

“I’m trying to continue the discussion but it’s hard after
a letter like that,” said Purnell.

The work would also align the entrance with the Food Lion
shopping center entrance, Purnell said.

Former Berlin Planning Commissioner Sandy Coyman, who is
Director of Comprehensive Planning for Worcester County, urged the commission
not to give up on combining those entrances. He suggested having the council
send Rite Aid a letter asking for a face-to-face meeting.

“They’re
not being a good citizen of Berlin and I think somebody needs to lean on them,”
Coyman said. 

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