Berlin Makes It Official, Plans To Hire Consultant

BERLIN – After months of no progress on the comprehensive plan, the town of Berlin has voted to hire a consultant to complete the land use document on time.

The Berlin comprehensive plan has languished incomplete for months. A draft was presented to the town and public last spring, and revisions were reportedly made based on those comments, but the plan has not moved forward since.

Tim Bourcier, a planner with Davis Bowen and Friedel (DBF), who is currently handling some functions of Berlin’s vacant planning superintendent position, recently submitted a proposal to the town to complete the comprehensive plan by next November’s state deadline. Maryland law requires that all jurisdictions in the state review their comprehensive plan every six years.

The Berlin Mayor and Council voted Monday night to accept DBF’s proposal to complete the plan at a cost not to exceed $31,000.

Bourcier said he plans to hold at least two public input meetings in January and February to gather direction from the townspeople for the future of the municipality. One of those meetings, he said, will be targeted to an oft-underrepresented part of the town population.

“I want to reach out to the African-American community. When I came here, I didn’t know there was such a large one,” Bourcier said. “I’m interested in getting that community involved.”

Citizen input will determine crucial aspects of the comprehensive plan.

“Until I get a vision from the community, go out and talk to them, I don’t know what the goals of the town are,” he said.

Bourcier has already reviewed the existing draft and reported his analysis to the Planning Commission, Berlin Administrative Director Linda Bambary said.

“The Planning Commission at their last meeting told Tim they wanted to get it prioritized and get it done,” said Bambary.

The next draft should be complete mid-April to early May. Bourcier estimated that only 15 to 30 percent of the existing draft would make it into the next draft.

“It’s pretty unfinished,” Bourcier said. “I don’t know from a time stand point how much [the current draft] really helps the town.”

Bourcier has extensive experience writing comprehensive plans, including working on the Miami, Fla., plan.

Berlin should be interesting, he said, because it includes so many different elements.

“Each town is different in its own way and different in their perspectives,” he said. “For being such a small community, it’s a very eclectic one. There’s going to be some interesting challenges there.”