BERLIN — The Berlin Mayor and Council approved a pair of holiday-themed special events, the addition of extra outdoor seating for a Main Street restaurant abd a letter of support for a proposed development on Seahawk Road, among other items.
Holiday Events OK’d
The council unanimously, and enthusiastically, approved a Tree Lighting and Arts Night for Friday, Nov. 29 and the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop for Tuesday, Dec. 31.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this again so soon, but it is what it is and it is upon us,” said Michael Day, director of Community and Economic Development.
Neither event has changed much from last year, though Day told the council that the ball drop is becoming one of Berlin’s signature events and has become popular enough that other communities seem to be using it as a draw.
“It has become quite a successful event and already I’m hearing a lot of things from Ocean City about this event, and they’re parlaying it into themselves. So it’s become an Ocean City event, I think,” Day said.
Day added that another benefit of the ball drop is that it’s the largest event without many parking issues, since many of the more than 1,000 guests who attend on average are able to walk to downtown Berlin.
Outdoor Seating Doubled
In the only non-unanimous vote of the day, the council approved a request by Pete Livolsi, managing partner for Siculi, to add two more outdoor tables in front of his restaurant, bringing the total to four. Livolsi pointed out that as of a few months ago Siculi already had four outside tables, but that number was cut in half after some controversy in town over sidewalk clutter.
“We started with four tables and then were told we had to back off to two,” he said. “I was never really fully clear on it. The four fit comfortably which was the only reason we really put them out there.”
When all four tables were outside, they are rarely all filled simultaneously, Livolsi continued. Also, alcohol cannot be served to the outdoor tables.
Mayor Gee Williams saw no problem in adding the extra sidewalk seating and noted that they shouldn’t impact Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. However, he did encourage Livolsi to “just monitor” the four tables so that if there is any kind of crowding or disturbance, he can deal with it before the town has to step in.
The council voted 3 to 1 to double the seating, with Councilman Dean Burrell opposed.
An official letter of support has been sent by the council to the Worcester County Commission for a proposed mixed residential and commercial use development to be located on Seahawk Road by the Rinnier Development Company.
“What this is, in a nutshell, is when they go and make their formal request from the County Commissioners, the first thing the commissioners want to know is what the stance of the Mayor and Council is,” said Williams. “And what we’re saying is, although we’re not pre-approving it … we have no objection to it and we are supportive of it.”
The council had shown initial enthusiasm for the development, which would include annexing all of the property associated with the development into the town of Berlin, since August. This is the first official nod of support, however.
Due to the scope of the proposed development, about 120 acres, and the mixed use intention, the council still had a number of questions that they plan on asking as the project advances.