Berlin Officials Discuss Three Separate Annexations

BERLIN — The Berlin Planning Commission had a chance to do some long-term forecasting last week when members discussed three potential annexations of property into town.

All three hypothetical annexations are attracting a lot of attention in Berlin and include three unique developments — a Royal Farms on Route 50, a mixed residential and commercial use development on Seahawk Road and a possible Cobblestone Hotel facility on US Route 113.

Royal Farms was the first to be reviewed and commented upon. The announcement was made earlier this summer that the national franchise is considering locating a store at the intersection of Route 50 and Seahawk Road. The Arby’s currently in the space would shift over to an adjacent lot and the property would apply for annexation into the town.

The commission saw a lot of potential in bringing the big name to Berlin though there was some concern about it being across the busy highway from both Stephen Decatur Middle and High schools.

“They’ve got to at least put a pedestrian crosswalk up there,” said Commissioner Pete Cosby, who predicted that students would often frequent Royal Farms by walking across the highway.

It is something that the State Highway Administration needs to plan for, agreed Lisa Hall, a member of the Town Council sitting in on the meeting. Besides that safety concern, the commission seemed eager for the Royal Farms to bid for annexation into Berlin. Several commissioners said they hope the national chain will be willing to tweak their design so that the store can keep with the town’s architectural style. The Royal Farms located in Easton would be a good template, said Cosby.

“Red brick would be really cool,” he said.

Next up on the agenda was discussion on a proposed residential and commercial development that could be located on Seahawk Road across from SDMS and SDHS. The project would include a potential 900 apartment units as well as associated commercial offerings and retail. A zoning talk will need to take place at some point, said Dave Engelhart, Planning and Zoning director for Berlin.

“He wants almost 900, that’s double the density, so that’s a discussion we need to have,” said Engelhart referring to Blair Rinnier, CEO of Rinnier Development Company.

Parking and the potentially massive jump in housing that could be annexed into Berlin raised some eyebrows, though any such development would be done in stages and Rinnier’s reputation was held in high regard by some commissioners.

“Have you ever seen his developments? They’re awesome. They’re beautiful, the buildings he builds are nice, the upkeep is immaculate,” said Commissioner John Barrett.

The final hypothetical annexation would be for property owned by John Derrickson along Route 113 across from the former Boomer’s Restaurant. That property is the potential site for a new Cobblestone hotel.

As with the other two theoretical annexation discussions, the commission agreed that the property could make a good addition to the town of Berlin.

No action was taken on any of the possible annexation, though the commissioners expect to see some or all of them up for review soon.