BERLIN – Plans for a new Coastal Hospice in Berlin advanced after the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) granted a request for conditional use to the facility.
The BZA approval comes a few weeks after the Berlin Mayor and Council granted a similar request from the organization.
While the facility is only in the planning stages, the location will be in the area of Ann Drive, to the northerly side of Broad St.
Berlin Superintendent of Planning and Zoning Chuck Ward pointed out that if the BZA granted the hospice conditional use in that area, 21 residential uses would be eliminated. However, he explained that was not necessarily a bad thing.
Ward informed the assembly that, on average, a single-family residence was responsible for 10 vehicle trips per day. With 21 residences, that would work out to 210 vehicle trips per day. According to Ward, all of that traffic would have to use Broad St., potentially increasing congestion in the town. On the other hand, Ward had calculated that the hospice facility would likely only produce about 36 vehicle trips per day total.
Additionally, Ward did not expect much negative impact on any town operations if the board granted Coastal Hospice a conditional use.
“They’re not going to produce noise, stench, or any other negative elements,” said Ward.
The Berlin Police Department had already expressed satisfaction with the facility. The Berlin Fire Department agreed, only making a few recommendations, such as a back-up power generator at the location in case of a prolonged blackout.
However, such a recommendation is already a federal requirement, and a back-up generator is just one of several safety precautions already incorporated in the blueprints for the buildings. Other such precautions include two hours worth of fire protection with the first hour built into the material and an additional hour provided by a sprinkler system.
Those blueprints and other architectural drawings were presented at the meeting. The board members were impressed.
“It’s a beautiful building,” said Acting BZA Chair Sonny Adkins. “An asset to the town.”
When questions of an exact timeline on construction arose, Alane Capen, president of Coastal Hospice, admitted that Berlin wouldn’t see an operating facility for at least a few years.
“We haven’t begun the capital campaign yet,” she said, “We expect it to be almost two years before we start construction.”