Residents Petition For Fence Around Berlin Development

BERLIN – Plans for Cannery Village, the affordable housing community currently under construction, will not change in spite of concerns voiced by neighborhood residents.

Town officials say nearby residents worried about children from Cannery Village cutting across their lawns to get to Flower Street have little to worry about. They believe the vegetative buffer being planted by the developer will keep trespassing from becoming a problem.

“I just want to keep this in perspective,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “Having new families with children coming to our community is something we should be proud of. We need to be sure we are protecting the privacy and peaceable living of existing residents but it is not a negative thing to have a growing community.”

A handful of homeowners whose properties abut the new affordable housing community told town officials they were concerned residents of Cannery Village would be cutting across their lawns to get to Flower Street. They’re worried children, in particular, will use their lawns as shortcuts to get to bus stops on Flower Street. Councilman Elroy Brittingham said he’d spoken to one of the five residents who’d signed a petition to have the developer install a fence between the existing homes and the new community.

“The person that created this petition, when he talked to me about it, it made sense,” Brittingham said. “Wherever there will be a school bus stop a lot of those kids are going to be cutting across people’s property. Cannery Village backs right up to those properties on Flower Street.”

Dave Engelhart, the town’s planning director, said the developer had plans for a plant buffer behind Cannery Village.

“When they did their site plan it was a vegetative buffer,” he said. “That’s still their intention.”

He said town staff had met with the developer and the concerned citizens and the parties involved had agreed that the buffer of arborvitae could be evaluated in the future.

“I think it’ll be addressed by the trees,” Engelhart said. “We all kind of agreed to a wait and see thing. That could be addressed at a later time if need be.”

Williams suggested that Engelhart also contact the Worcester County Board of Education to discuss potential school bus stops for the children of the new community. He said he thought a stop at the end of Cannery Way would alleviate the potential of children cutting across yards.

He also said he didn’t see the addition of more children to the neighborhood as a problem.

“I’m not upset that we’ve got kids,” he said. “Most small towns in this country are dying because the population is dying. I’m not upset at all that we have a bus stop. It means we have children.”

He added that he’d visited the area in question and said much of it was already full of vegetation that would prevent pedestrians from taking shortcuts off the street.

“As crazy as kids are, they’re going to have to go through a lot of briars,” Williams said. “I can’t see that.”

He said he wanted the community to work together to turn potential adversities into advantages.

“There are so many things happening in this community that are making us a special place to live and visit,” Williams said. “One of those things is for many years we’ve been building bridges not walls. Fences are just cheap walls. I do not want to create any walls that aren’t necessary.”

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.