Subdivision Eyes Tripoli St, Route 113 Intersection

BERLIN – For the first time in months, the Berlin Planning Commission was asked to consider a new housing development in town.

Developer Main Street Homes from Gaithersburg, Md. asked the Planning Commission Wednesday night to offer comments on its concept for a 38-house subdivision on 11 acres at the corner of Tripoli St. and Route 113, bordering Stephen Decatur Park.

The concept plan calls for 38 homes, at 2,000 square feet each, clustered around a central span of open space.

“So every home in the neighborhood has a view or fronts on park land,” said Dave Ager of Townscape Designs.

The homes should not look like the typical development, according to Ager, who discussed an alley system behind the houses to allow access to parking and garages in the rear. That will eliminate numerous driveway cuts along Tripoli St., he said. Houses will also face onto Tripoli St., instead of away.

“Our plan will be to design and build,” said David Dombert of Main Street Homes, instead of simply selling lots.

Dombert said his company, which only builds about 40 houses a year, would build in phases of no more than 10 houses a year on Tripoli St. The houses would not all be identical, he said. The lots vary in width, which will promote a variety of house designs. The front setbacks will also vary.

“We’re going to do the best we can with the physical design of the community,” said Ager.

The street network in the development will also show a variety of widths, like in the rest of the town.

Ager said he is thinking of the street and parking design as a large cul de sac with parking in the middle. A street will possibly connect the subdivision to Bay St. to the north.

Plans call for a native tree buffer between Route 113 and the development to screen the highway visually and to reduce noise.

Stormwater management and the forestry conservation requirement will also be met through this buffer, designers said.

Planning Commission member Pete Cosby asked if the developer was willing to commit to house elevations with eaves and other architectural details fitting with the town.

Yes, he would commit to that, said Dombert. Though it’s a lot easier to do a conventional subdivision, he said that is not what he or the town wants.

“We want to make this right,” he said.

The town does not want to make the mistake it did with Decatur Farm, Cosby said, which ended up with large boxes instead of architecturally interesting structures.

“I swore after that project across the highway it would never happen again,” Cosby said.

Dombert said they would accept that condition, since there is no point in doing the other elements of the design, such as alleyways, only to build conventional buildings.

Planning Commission member Ron Cascio asked if the developer would consider reducing the square footage of the homes.

“I think the 2,000 square foot house is a thing of the past,” said Cascio.

According to Dombert, a contract with one of the land sellers specifies 2,000-square-foot houses.

“I think this could be a model project for the town,” said Cosby.

Cascio agreed, saying, “I don’t think we’re going to accept anything but this kind of stuff from now on.”