New Site Plan OK’d For Berlin Activities Depot

BERLIN — Nearly two years after an initial site plan approval, the Berlin Activities Depot is showing signs of moving forward after receiving approval for a revised site plan Wednesday from the Berlin Planning Commission.
The new plan will shave off about 6,000 square feet from the interior and will alter the aesthetics of the building to give it a more unique look.
“What you see in front of you, I guess, is our latest and greatest revised plan,” architect Keith Fisher told the commission. “We’re making an attempt to make the elevation of the building more train depot-like.”
Dropping from 30,000 square feet to 23,987, the new building should be “something recognizable, something that is fun, exciting and inspires kids to have a good time,” said Fisher. The roughly 6,000 square feet lost from the building will instead be used as a fenced in outdoor area.
Initial plans for the depot include activities like laser tag, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf and daycare. There will also be an extensive gymnasium. The facility will be located off Route 346, or Old Ocean City Blvd, at a site formerly used for parking for the then Tyson poultry plant. The lot has been vacant for years and at the original site approval meeting, several commissioners praised depot owner Carmella Solito for finding a way to put the property to good use.
Fisher said the new site plan seeks to change the look of the facility to match Solito’s vision for something more distinct and memorable than the original draft presented back in January of 2012.
“We brought down a lot of the accent areas than what you saw before,” he said.
Commissioner John Barrett told Solito that he considers this new plan an upgrade.
“I think it’s an improved look from what it was,” he said.
There are still some “minor hurdles” with the plan and the associated stormwater discussion, according to Dave Engelhart, director of planning and zoning, but nothing that needed to delay the commission approving the revised site plan.
“It’s been submitted and reviewed, comments have come back, but I don’t have an approved stormwater management plan,” he said.
The commission voted 6 to 1, with Barb Stack opposed, to approve the new site plan. Stack was the sole vote against the original plan as well, saying she worried about the site being heavily developed and becoming too crowded if Solito ever expands on the property.