BERLIN – Officials from a Pocomoke company whose plans to build a Dollar General in Berlin were denied approval by the town are taking the case to court.
Representatives from Oxford Chase Development, the company that proposed plans for a 9,000 square-foot Dollar General near the intersection of Route 113 and Route 346 in Berlin, filed an appeal of the decision of the Berlin Board of Appeals in Worcester County Circuit Court Thursday.
“We’re not giving up,” said John Camp, vice president of Oxford Chase Development. “We’re going to pursue it through whatever legal means we can.”
According to Randy Coates, attorney for Oxford Chase, the company will be appealing the board of appeals’ affirmation of the planning director’s decision to deny a zoning certificate for the project.
“We’re saying it’s arbitrary,” Coates said. “There’s no standard. There has to be a definitive standard to deny us of a property right — that being the access [to Route 346].”
Oxford Chase Development first submitted plans for a new Dollar General store on Route 346 last fall. The company got a parking variance from the board of appeals in September and received preliminary site plan approval from the town’s planning commission in January. When the company tried to get final site plan approval in March, however, a number of area residents objected to the project, citing the traffic problems it would create at the already congested intersection of Route 346 and Route 113. Officials from Atlantic General Hospital, which is located across from the piece of land proposed for the Dollar General, also voiced concerns.
After hearing testimony from a variety of people, the planning commission voted not to recommend site plan approval to the town’s planning director, Dave Engelhart. Engelhart acted as the commission advised and denied the project a zoning certificate.
When the developers indicated they wanted to appeal that decision to the town’s board of appeals, Berlin officials told them they should appeal it to circuit court. A circuit court judge, however, ruled that the town’s board of appeals should hear the case.
It did, and in May the board voted 3-1 to uphold Engelhart’s denial.
Camp said that in spite of what has become a months-long struggle his company would still like to build a Dollar General in Berlin.
“You don’t move forward with a court case without feeling that you’ve been wronged,” he said.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said, “I believe the town is ultimately and appropriately the responsible party for ensuring a safe and consistent access for emergency vehicles and the public to the only roadway into Atlantic General Hospital.”