Berlin Comp. Plan Cost Jumps Nearly $12K

BERLIN – The cost of Berlin’s Comprehensive Plan went up this week by almost $12,000.

Last December, the Berlin Mayor and Council engaged Davis Bowen and Friedel (DBF) to create the town’s new comprehensive Plan at a cost of $30,805.

Tim Bourcier of DBF went before the council Wednesday night to request another $11,685 to complete the plan, for a total cost of $42,490.  He said he is 99 percent sure that this is the only supplemental funding that will be necessary.

The original price was based on the assumption that the state of Maryland would undertake the development capacity analysis as part of bringing local jurisdictions into compliance with new smart growth legislation.

That development capacity analysis became necessary earlier than expected, as the town considered zoning changes for the Davis-Taylor farm senior living project.

 “We couldn’t really wait for the state to perform an analysis for us,” Bourcier told the Town Council. “The state has a pretty heavy backlog.”

The analysis looks at developable land in town and compares that to population growth projections to see if the one can accommodate the other. If population projections outstripped available land, the town would need to look at increasing its residential growth area.

“What we really want to do is justify the growth the town wants,” said Bourcier.

Bourcier went ahead and did the development capacity analysis and then realized that the original price would not cover all the work.

The work is more extensive than originally planned, Bourcier said, and the several new items prompted the request for more funding.

Changes in the state critical area law also affect Berlin and must be reflected in the comprehensive plan. Streams in town lead to the critical areas and buffers, and must meet new requirements, he said.

Bourcier said he would also hold another town workshop on the final draft of the plan, continuing with the small group format, before submitting the plan to the Berlin Planning Commission for review.

A more comprehensive citizen survey, first expected this summer, will now be sent out next week.

Bourcier will meet with the Berlin Planning Commission in the next few weeks to go over the draft of the first three to four chapters of the plan. He estimated that there is still another 60 to 70 percent of the plan to put together.

The final draft will be delivered to the Planning Commission in December or January, Bourcier said, and the council should get it at the end of March.