Berlin Historic Comm. Okays Changes To Town Properties

BERLIN – The Berlin Historic District Commission met Wednesday night and all three items brought before them were met with unanimous approval.

Jill Hoshal came before the commission to represent the Baked Dessert Café. Unlike the other two cases that night, Hoshal wasn’t asking the commission to approve changes to her building for aesthetics so much as for safety.

“Whenever someone comes into the bakery, the doors push in…there’s a little bit of a safety concern if we need to get people out quickly,” she said.

Hoshal asked that the doors be replaced with ones that would open in the opposite direction, onto the street instead of into the bakery. Additionally, she asked permission to replace the single plane glass windows in her store with sturdier double pane, also for safety reasons.

“We’re worried it might break if pressed against,” she said.

The change had already received the recommendation of the fire marshal and other safety organizations. The commission approved the request unanimously.

Second on the agenda was a petition by the OC Law Office Holding Company LLC to install a metal awning at its South Main St. building. Commissioners Betty Hammond and Carol Rose both excused themselves from the matter, as they had conflicts of interest. However, with alternate commissioner Rick Stack the assembly was able to maintain the three members it needed to precede, the other members being Bob McIntosh and Kitty Mathews.

Joe Moore came forward to represent the law office. He presented a number of photographs of the original building and of what the awning would look like. He assured the commission that it would not throw off the historical look of the neighborhood. In fact, he said that the awning should lend some distinction to the building.

“It will take it back to its historical context,” said Moore.

The commission was informed that the Maryland Historic Trust had already endorsed the request. Moore clarified the awning would be green on top and almost certainly remain unpainted on the bottom. It was unanimously approved.

For the final matter to be discussed that night, Hammond and Rose returned to the dais. Sarah Conley spoke to the commissioners as the representative for Rainbow Florist. Several cosmetic changes to the building were proposed including a new design for the shop’s corner sign.

“We want to change the corner sign to be a bit more noticeable,” Conley told the commission.

On top of that, she also requested permission to add black trim along the store’s windows and to make slight color corrections to a few areas immediately outside the building.

The only item that the HDC took issue with was Conley’s petition to add a cloth awning to the location.

“I think the design looks fine,” said Hammond, “but I don’t know if a canvas awning is practical.”

McIntosh agreed.

“You don’t want to spend a lot of money on cloth,” he told Conley, “and have a 50 moh wind tear it down.”

Chuck Ward, Berlin’s superintendent of planning, also brought up the fact that, if the awning was to be permanent, Conley would need to file for a building permit and he wasn’t sure if a cloth awning would be up to code.

Conley acknowledged the problem and withdrew that particular portion of her case so she could conduct further research into awnings. The commission then approved the other parts of her request, including the sign, trim, and other color changes.