Rules Changed For To-Go Businesses

BERLIN – New carry-out food operations in Berlin will be assigned water and sewer service based on square footage or the number of seats in the establishment, three Berlin Mayor and Council members decided Monday.

 Last year, the town council established specific EDU guidelines for medical offices to replace outmoded regulations that had not kept up with new medical technology reducing the amount of water used in medical spaces.

“This is the same scenario, only this time it’s carry-out,” town Administrative Director Linda Bambary said.

A potential deli owner and two property owners have recently inquired about sewer service for new deli-style operations, she said, prompting the new policy.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has extensive guidelines on sewer service allocation to different types of businesses, which the town follows.

State regulations call for office building sewer needs to be reached through multiplying the gross square footage of the space by .29 gallons per day, for example.

The MDE guidelines were not specific for carry-out operations, only restaurants with waiters, tables and seating. Town staff found those regulations too restrictive for a deli or carry-out.

Berlin staffers patterned the new EDU assignment policy for carry-out operations on Worcester County’s policy for carry-outs.

Necessary sewer service for carry-outs will be reached by multiplying the entire square footage of the business, including private spaces, by .5 gallons per day (gpd), or assigning sewer capacity per seat, with each seat rated at .25 gpd.

Planners would use whichever amount was higher.

Carry-out seats would be limited.

“The threshold for the seating will be 10,” Bambary said. “Ten seats would be equivalent to at least one EDU.”

Berlin does not offer partial EDUs.

“Some of them are so small you couldn’t get beyond one EDU,” said Councilwoman Paula Lynch said, pointing out the narrow bakery on Main St.

The new regulations will apply to new carry-out food operations and existing carry-outs purchased by a new owner.

“For existing uses, we do actual historic flows for 24 months,” Bambary said.

The council voted 3-0 to approve the new carry-out operation sewer regulations.