Cannery Project Could Start In Early ‘09

BERLIN –
Despite several delays over funding and permitting, the Cannery Village
green workforce housing project should break ground in January.

“We’re prepared. We have a
contractor,” said Frank Gunion, president of the Berlin Community Development
Corporation, a partner in the enterprise.

The project needs to begin in
January in order to comply with Maryland Community Development Block Grant
restrictions on the town of Berlin.

Before breaking ground, the
development needs to finalize details, such as minor alterations to the
forestry plan, and have changes to the site plan approved by the Berlin
Planning Commission.

The site plan revisions were
scheduled to go before the planning body last week, but developers put that off
because the Planning Commission likes to see all approvals before making a
decision. Changes to the stormwater plan can change the site plan, for example.

“We withdrew it because we
thought we’d have our forestry approval in hand and we did not,” said Gunion.

While there have been some
revisions to the site plan due to natural resource planning, the site plan
remains substantially the same, according to Gunion.

The “green” development
encountered a major impediment this spring when an expected state grant was not
approved.

Recent talks with the state have
shown that the project is on track, despite the delay that pushed
groundbreaking back from this fall to the new year.

“They are encouraging us to
continue to pursue the grants and the whole project,” Gunion said. “They’re
indicating they anticipate being able to fund it.”

Once a funding request is
resubmitted, some time in October, the state should have its answer back in 60
days.

“They expressed strong support
for the project. They said it is groundbreaking,” Gunion said. “They really
want to see this single-family approach happen.”

Multi-family homes, not
single-family, are the usual components of affordable and workforce housing,
and no one else in the state has created green workforce housing, according to
project officials, making the Cannery Village unique and something of a test
case.

The delays have come in part
because Cannery Village is using a new approach, and the
state does not have processes in place to handle it.

“I’m optimistic,” Gunion said.

 

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