Berlin Council To Consider Expanding Historic District

BERLIN – Sometime in the next month, the Berlin Town Council
will begin considering proposed additions to the town’s historic district.

The Berlin Planning Commission voted unanimously to
approve the proposal put forth by the Berlin Historic District Commission to
increase the historic district with the addition of two new areas, numbers one
and three from discussions last summer, centering roughly around Broad Street
and Bay Street.     

“We’re recommending it to you,” said Bob McIntosh, chair
of the historic district commission.

That approval means that the town council will soon have
the changes under its eye for a vote. The Mayor and Council will also seek
residents’ input.

“After you make a recommendation to the Mayor and council,
they have to hold a public hearing,” said planning commission attorney Ed Baker.

The planning commission could proceed to approval of the
expansion without a public hearing if it felt that the historic district
commission, which held two hearings, had done enough investigation, Baker said.

“We have recommended this for years,” said Berlin Planning
Commission Chair Pete Cosby. “It’s critical to the town’s interests to protect
as much history as we can.”

Cosby said he wanted to see the town’s historic district
as broad as could be. McIntosh said he agreed, but that it has to be done a
little bit at a time and not all at once.

“People in various neighborhoods did not appreciate that,”
said McIntosh, speaking of a broad expansion.

Originally, four areas were proposed for inclusion in the
historic district, but a contentious public meeting several months ago
persuaded the town to drop two of the areas from consideration.

Cosby suggested bringing in areas along Washington Street
with characteristic homes from the 1950s and 1960s for the district, but
McIntosh said that those areas had not been discussed.

It is up to the planning commission to instruct the
historic district commission to proceed with looking into further expansions,
McIntosh said.

Cosby praised the use of the historic district to preserve
historic aspects of the town. If approved by the town council, this would be
the first major expansion of the historic district in 25 years.