Berlin Eases B&B Regulations

BERLIN — Stringent regulations on what can and cannot be done at bed-and-breakfast facilities in Berlin could be relaxed somewhat after town officials this week approved a code amendment that would allow innkeepers to ask the Board of Zoning Appeals for leeway in certain cases.

The regulations covering bed-and-breakfast facilities in Berlin are particularly onerous, essentially allowing just a night’s stay and a morning meal to guests. However, bed-and-breakfast facilities in Berlin, specifically the Waystead Inn on Harrison Ave., would like the opportunity to host other activities, such as occasional weddings, birthday parties, wine tastings and other activities currently not acceptable under the town code.

To that end, Waystead Inn attorney Mark Cropper applied for a text amendment to the code that would allow innkeepers to apply to the BZA for special exceptions. On Monday, the Mayor and Council approved the text amendment, allowing the BZA to make decisions on special requests.

“The purpose of this is to give the BZA the authority to relax some of the restrictions,” said Cropper. “There are 12 provisions in the code that limit what you can and cannot do with a bed-and-breakfast. There are certain things the Waystead Inn wanted to do that weren’t allowed in the code.”

The approved text amendment will add a 13th provision to the existing list of 12 currently in the town code governing bed-and-breakfasts. The new provision applies to bed-and-breakfast facilities on single lots greater than one acre in size and provides authority to the BZA to modify the original 12 provisions if the modification does not substantially impair the purpose of the existing code.

“This allows the BZA to look at these situations on a case-by-case basis to see if the code needs to be adhered to, or if the code can be relaxed,” said Cropper. “You have a great board, and if you trust them to that extent, that same trust should be extended to decisions on bed-and-breakfast requests.”

After little debate, the council unanimously approved the text amendment governing bed-and-breakfast restrictions, expressing complete confidence in the BZA to look out for the town’s best interest.

“We’re very fortunate in this community to have a depth of knowledge and experience on all of our boards and commissions including the BZA,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “We hope this provides the flexibility to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.”