Berlin, Dollar General Ink Deal For Property Sale, New Store

Berlin, Dollar General Ink Deal For Property Sale, New Store
1 dollar gen

BERLIN – A developer is expected to abandon plans to build a Dollar General at a controversial location near Atlantic General Hospital after agreeing to purchase a new site from the town.

On Monday, the Berlin Town Council voted 3-0 to allow Mayor Gee Williams to sign a contract with Oxford Chase Development, the company that has been working to build a Dollar General in Berlin, for the sale of 1.67 acres near the intersection of Bay Street and Route 113. The property was part of the roughly five acres the town purchased for $828,000 in 2010.

“I think this helps accelerate the development of that neighborhood for the benefit of the entire community,” Williams said.

Oxford Chase Development will pay the town $296,378 for the parcel. The adjacent land — what’s left of the town’s original five-acre purchase — will eventually be the site of a new police station and water tower. Though there were at one time plans to put a community center on the site as well, Williams said the town now intended to use land on Flower Street — which would be acquired as part of the former Tyson plant purchase — for that purpose.

In an interview Tuesday, Williams said representatives from Oxford Chase approached the town earlier this year and expressed interest in the property. At that time, the plans to build a Dollar General at the intersection of Route 113 and Route 346 had been rejected by both the Berlin Planning Commission and the Berlin Board of Zoning Appeals. The company was waiting for its appeal of the board of appeals decision to be heard in Worcester County Circuit Court.

Because the site at Bay Street and Route 113 was already set to be redeveloped, Williams said town officials thought that would be a better location for a Dollar General than the previously proposed site on Route 346. Williams said it would also create less traffic trouble.

“It is much more accessible to a residential area,” he said, adding that there was no sidewalk in front of the other location. “Many people can walk to this store. We’re encouraging the development of businesses where it creates the most convenient access without destroying the neighborhood.”

Council member Lisa Hall, though she wasn’t present at Monday’s meeting, agreed that a Dollar General near Bay Street would be more accessible and more valuable to the community than one at the intersection of Route 113 and Route 346.

“This is giving that community more than just an Uncle Willie’s,” she said, adding that the town’s comprehensive plan called for businesses that were accessible to residential areas.

Williams too said the construction of a retail store there would provide residents with a close-to-home place to buy household goods.

“We’re very happy with the development of the downtown but that’s not the place residents would go for normal goods and services for day to day living,” he said.

According to Williams it took about two months for the town and representatives from Oxford Chase to reach an agreement regarding the sale of the property. Though the development company has agreed to buy the site for $296,378, that sum will only be paid if the permits and approvals needed for the project are received.

“This all stops if they don’t have anything to develop,” Williams said.

He says ideally the permitting process will be complete by April or May, as the company is much more familiar now with what the town requires when it comes to commercial development.

John Camp, vice president of Oxford Chase Development, said he thought the property would prove a good location for a Dollar General.

“We feel good about the decision,” he said. “We have a lot of respect for the mayor and the work he’s done.”

When asked if the new store location meant his company would be dropping its appeal of the previous Berlin Board of Appeals decision, Camp declined to comment.

As for the land the town retains ownership of near the Bay Street and Route 113 intersection, Williams said construction of the new police station there could begin as soon as next fall. Design work is currently underway.

“We’re very excited,” he said. “Plans are coming along nicely.”

The new facility will enable police to move out of the space they share with Berlin’s town hall and should provide for the municipality’s law enforcement needs until at least “mid-century,” according to Williams.

“They’ve dealt with an inadequate facility for a long time,” he said.

The construction date of the water tower planned for the property will depend on how fast the town grows, Williams said, but will happen in the near future.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.