Berlin Residents Speak Out Against Proposed Subdivision

BERLIN – A proposal for a subdivision on Burley Street drew concerns from several neighborhood residents this week.

As the town’s planning commission reviewed a concept plan for a residential subdivision at 33 Burley St., neighbors said they were opposed to the proposal.

“You’re getting ready to open Pandora’s box,” Burley Street resident Barry Neeb said. “The idea of a subdivision on Burley Street is frightening to me.”

Land planner Bob Hand told the commission the property owners wanted to convert 33 Burley St. and the adjacent vacant lot, which together total just under two acres, into a four-lot subdivision. The existing home on the property would be one lot while the three others would be situated in flag-lot array around it, accessed by a shared driveway.

“We wanted to come here as early as possible to get your input,” Hand said.

When asked why they were pursuing a shared driveway rather than a cul-de-sac, property owners said that option was cost prohibitive. Commission members also asked why they weren’t developing two traditionally shaped lots.

“You’d have huge backyards that you’d have to maintain,” said John Collins, whose family is behind the project.

He added that the family had spent years discussing options for the property.

“We were honestly trying to figure out what was best for the town,” he said.

Newt Chandler, a member of the commission, said he thought the family could make just as much money selling two large lots as they would with three flag-shaped lots that had to share a driveway.

“I don’t think people would want to live like that,” he said.

Burley Street resident George Degroft said he’d lived in the neighborhood since the 1970s and didn’t believe a subdivision fit.

“I feel the whole idea is totally out of character with the neighborhood,” he said, adding that the street was known for its big lots. “That’s the charm and appeal.”

Burley Street resident Patricia Dufendach offered similar concerns.

“It is not in the character of the neighborhood,” she said.

Dufendach said subdivisions had never been allowed on Burley Street before.

Resident Jennifer Neeb pointed out that the existing house at 33 Burley St. was a rental.

“Your passion is where you live,” she said.

She added that if a subdivision was permitted at one property other properties along the street could seek the same.

“I don’t think this is in the best interest of the residents of Burley Street,” Neeb said.

Resident Diane Frederick expressed concern about drainage on Burley Street. She said that when a nearby house had built an addition, flooding on her property had increased. She pointed out that a subdivision could have further impact flooding.

Mitchell David, a Washington Street resident, said he wasn’t for or against the proposed subdivision but that he did support infill development rather than annexation.

Chandler said he did not want to give up his quality of life for infill. He said people came to Berlin because of the large, quiet lots like those on Burley Street.

At Wednesday’s meeting the planning commission also reviewed a concept plan for a two-story building to be located on Old Ocean City Boulevard near Route 113. The project, originally proposed in 2009, is being constructed as a shell until the property owner finds tenants. Both the Old Ocean City Boulevard project and the Burley Street project were “concept” reviews, so both will have to return to the planning commission for formal approval.

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.