Friday, July 24–County Okay With Berlin Annexing Old Tyson Property

SNOW HILL – With one caveat, Worcester County elected officials signed off on the proposed annexation of part of the old Tyson Chicken Plant into Berlin town limits.

During their meeting Tuesday, the County Commissioners made sure to note that the rear boundary of the annexation, which would bring 3.9 acres of a multi-acre property into Berlin, currently bisects the corner of an outbuilding.

County staff recommended the line be moved to either include or exclude the building or that the building be demolished totally.

As required by state law, the commissioners approved the change in uses between the current county zoning and the proposed zoning once the land is annexed into the town. The county must approve any substantial change in use achieved through an annexation.

In the case of the Tyson property, owned by Berlin Properties North (BPN), the former chicken plant building would be rezoned from the industrial designation of the county to Berlin B-3, general business, once the old plant building is taken into the town.

BPN plans to lease or sell space for retail, restaurant or office space in the existing plant building. With the proposed rezoning upon annexation, industrial uses are off the table.

The commissioners concurred with the change from industrial to business zoning. If they had not, state law requires the town to retain the existing county zoning for five years after annexation.

The commissioners seemed more interested in discussing the boundary line through the building than the change in uses.

“It’s a little problematic to have an annexation line drawn through a building,” said Ed Tudor, director of an as yet unnamed consolidated planning and permitting department.

The building would then be half in the county and half in the town, a permitting issue, according to Tudor.

Commission President Louise Gulyas suggested the town bring cleaned up maps back to the county.

“Somebody’s setting themselves up for craziness here by putting a line through a building,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley.

That building will likely be demolished, Tudor said.

“It will probably become a moot issue,” said Commissioner Bud Church.    

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