Plan Would Give Berlin Mechanism To Manage Growth

BERLIN – After years of wrestling with a sort of mythical waiting list for projects lined up for water and sewer capacity in Berlin, the Mayor and Council on Monday introduced legislation which, if approved, will create a mechanism for allocating the precious commodities in the town in the future.

As Berlin inches closer to a state-mandated expansion of its public water and sewer capacity, projects proposed for development have been put on a waiting list until such time water and sewer capacity becomes available. This week, town officials introduced at first reading a comprehensive ordinance that, when approved, will facilitate the allocation of the resources and, in effect, direct the future growth of Berlin.

“The Mayor and Council further find that an allocation procedure will help implement a comprehensive development plan by ensuring that adequate public water and sewer facilities are available in a timely and well-planned manner,” the 10-page ordinance reads.

“Timely” and “well-planned” are certainly words that should come as music to the ears of developers and property owners clamoring for water and sewer capacity to bring their various projects to fruition. For several years, uncertainty about the town’s future capacity has created a moratorium of sorts, with a waiting list of projects lines up for water and sewer. The ordinance introduced on Monday will help town officials move projects from the waiting list to actual allocation as capacity becomes available.

The so-called capacity management plan and its various amendments “shall specify the general distribution of sewer capacity available for allocation by the Mayor and Council,” and “allocations shall be available within a given category on a first come, first served basis.”

Moments after the complex ordinance was read into the record, developers were already probing to town’s elected officials to see if the existing waiting list system would be incorporated into the new plan. For example, attorney Joe Moore, who is representing doctors hoping to open new facilities, questioned whether a priority chart had been established.

However, Mayor Gee Williams urged property owners and developers to remain patient as the plan unfolds.

“Quite frankly, we want to see what is proposed and make decisions, maybe by the end of the year, on what the allocations should be,” he said. “We need to make some educated guesses. There might be demand here and tons of supply there. For the first few years, we’ll be learning as we go.”