Berlin Comp Plan Draft Nears Completion

BERLIN – The final draft of Berlin’s new comprehensive plan is nearly complete and could be sent out for state and county review this month, town staff reported this week.

“The final draft is getting some recalculations done based on the last meeting of the Planning Commission,” Planning and Zoning Superintendent Chuck Ward reported to the Berlin Mayor and Council Monday night.

Originally, Ward said, he expected turn around time on the changes would be much quicker, but the recalculations are drawing out the process.

The final draft of the new comprehensive plan will be presented to the Berlin Planning and Zoning Commission at its regular Oct. 14 meeting for approval.

Once approved, Ward will send the draft comprehensive plan to the Maryland Department of Planning and to Worcester County for a 60-day review. “Those agencies then comment and send it back,” Ward said.

Comments tend to concern zoning, calculations, and usually some text changes, according to Ward. “Usually, they’re not earth shattering,” Ward said.

Comments do not require action, though the town must address the issues raised at least by noting that the comment has been taken under advisement.

Work on the new comprehensive plan has been under way in some fashion for several years, with a draft presented for comment in spring 2007. Revisions were reportedly made, but the plan made no further progress.

In December 2007, the town hired a consultant to complete the draft comprehensive plan. That consultant called the previous draft fairly unfinished, and proceeded to hold public input sessions.

The planning commission began going over the document in work sessions last spring.

Berlin has already received one six-month extension on submitting the new, approved comprehensive plan to the state, which allows two six-month extension periods.

“We’ll be well ahead of the deadline on the extension that’s been granted,” said Ward.

Mayor Gee Williams said he expected the council would get the new comprehensive plan for review around the first of the year.

“We’re very close to getting past the biggest hurdle which is getting it out of the hands of the planning commission to the state and county,” Williams said.