BERLIN – A hearing next week is the first step in the annexation process for a property just outside Berlin.
On Wednesday, Aug. 8, the Berlin Planning Commission will hold a public hearing regarding a request to add land at the intersection of Route 346 and Route 50 to the town’s growth area. If the property is added to the growth area, it can eventually be annexed into Berlin.
“We really need to have people give public input,” commission member Barb Stack said this week.
In June, local resident Ernest Gerardi, known for his efforts to rehabilitate old houses throughout town, shared his plans to develop 18 acres between Route 50 and Route 346 as a gateway to town. He said that while he envisioned multiple businesses in the space, he was committed to building a convenience store with a Berlin themed display to bring more traffic to town.
On Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m., the Berlin Planning Commission will host a public hearing regarding Gerardi’s request to add the property, which is actually two parcels, to the town’s growth area. Planning Director Dave Engelhart said that in addition to hosting the public hearing, the commission would make a recommendation to the Berlin Town Council regarding the request. It will then be up to the mayor and council to decide whether the property should be added to the town’s growth area or not. If the property is added to the growth area, Engelhart said Gerardi’s intention was to proceed with a formal annexation request.
“Those two parcels are currently zoned agricultural in the Worcester County zoning map,” Engelhart said. “If they were to be added to our growth area and annexed, they conceivably would be B-2 business district, the idea being for some commercial development.”
When he approached the commission in June, Gerardi shared a conceptual site plan for the property which showed a welcome sign, convenience store, produce stand, car dealership, hotel and apartments. He said his goal was to develop the property so that it would be an attractive gateway.
Commission members shared various views on the proposal, and Stack said this week she remained torn on the request. She encouraged members of the public to attend to share their thoughts on the project with the commission. She said citizens often waited to comment on a project until it was too late.
“People will not show up and then when something starts to happen from a development standpoint they’re like what happened how was this allowed?” Stack said. “We need everybody’s input. It’s pretty important that we don’t just have a couple people making decisions.”