Dollar General Granted Zoning Appeals Board Hearing By Court

Dollar General Granted Zoning Appeals Board Hearing By Court

BERLIN – A developer’s plan to build a Dollar General at a busy Berlin intersection will be heard by the town’s board of appeals following a decision in Worcester County Circuit Court.

When representatives from Oxford Chase Development sought to appeal the Berlin planning director’s denial of site plan approval for the Dollar General in March, town officials told them they would have to take their appeal to circuit court. On April 23, a Worcester County Circuit Court judge granted the writ of mandamus filed by Oxford Chase requiring the town to give the developer a hearing with the Berlin Board of Appeals.

“It says they’re required to hear the appeal,” said Randy Coates, attorney for Oxford Chase. “We’ll hopefully have a hearing before the board in May.”

David Gaskill, attorney for the Town of Berlin, argued that the Dollar General appeal should be made in circuit court.

“There were arguments to be made on both sides,” he said. “I believe the appeal should be heard in circuit court and I still do.”

The dispute stems from the March decision of Berlin’s planning director — who acts on the recommendations of the planning commission — to deny site plan approval to the 9,100-square-foot Dollar General proposed for the intersection of Old Ocean City Boulevard and Route 113. At the time, commission members said they were worried about the project’s impact on traffic at an already busy intersection. There was also concern expressed over an easement a neighboring landowner said was on the Dollar General property.

Coates says that when the board of appeals considers the Dollar General project, he plans to argue that the planning director’s decision was illegal because it denied the property owner access to Old Ocean City Boulevard.

“What the director said was that it was his opinion that any access was a public danger,” Coates said. “That’s not his call. That’s the State Highway Administration’s call.”

John Camp, vice president of Oxford Chase Development, said the Maryland State Highway Administration had approved the proposed access to the Dollar General site.

Because the lack of site plan approval has slowed the development process, Camp said it was still a possibility that the new Dollar General would not come to fruition.

“It’s a possibility but we’re trying to work through that,” he said.