Cannery Village Clears Berlin’s Approval Process

BERLIN – Cannery Village’s first 10 houses received their
final approval from the town of Berlin this week, but this milestone is not the
end of the permitting process for the workforce housing endeavor.

“There are other approvals still to get from federal and
state agencies,” said Frank Gunion, president of the Berlin Community
Development Corporation.

The Berlin Planning Commission made short work of the
final site plan approval. The plan has been before the commission several
times, only to be sent back for changes. This time, there was little to

“You all have seen this plan many times, so I won’t go
into too much detail,” said Gunion.

The plan presented covers the first 10 homes of what is
planned to be a 51-home community with commercial and civic elements. Gunion
described the development as a village.

Only 10 workforce houses are on the construction radar now
due to limited wastewater treatment availability. More will be built as the
town’s wastewater plant is expanded and service becomes available. Ten future
houses will be sold at market rate.

Pete Cosby, chair of the Berlin planning commission, said
that his pet peeve is the need for pedestrian walkways in green areas. He
questioned Gunion on whether he was prepared to commit to an easement for a
pedestrian way that connects to the rest of the town, written in on the plat.

Gunion said yes. Plans call for a wood-chipped, but not
paved, path in the greenway.

Some members of the commission were disturbed that the
plan did not include the New Beginnings Covenant Ministries church, which has
been one of the driving forces behind the project.

“The church is hoping to move to a new, larger facility,”
said Gunion. “Their plan is not to be there long term.”

Eight homebuyers have pre-qualified for the first crop of
10 workforce homes, said Don Bibb, director of the housing commission of Talbot
County, and a project consultant.

“We slowed down our approval process for homeowners until
we got approved but we’ll be having another public meeting after this to invite
people who are interested to apply,” Gunion said.

“This is our last look at this, guys,” Cosby said to the
commission after the short discussion, but no one had any other concerns.

The planning commission voted unanimously for final site
plan approval of the first phase.