Ordinance Limits Group Home Locations In Berlin

BERLIN – An ordinance introduced at last week’s town council meeting will allow group homes as a conditional use in Berlin.

The Nov. 13 meeting of the Berlin Town Council included the first reading of two ordinances, one that will define group homes and another that will allow group homes as a conditional use in the B-1 zoning district. Officials said that when Hope4Recovery approached the town about setting up a recovery house in Berlin earlier this year, they realized there was no provision for group homes in the code. Though that facility was permitted as a boarding house, the ordinances introduced last week will ensure that group homes specifically are provided for in the town code going forward.

“I think it would be helpful because quite frankly we’ve never had an application until this year,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “It’s just basically housekeeping to make sure it’s addressed so when future applications come before us there’s something to go by.”

Ordinance 2018-05 defines a group home as “a state licensed community residential facility housing and providing habilitative services to eight or fewer persons, not including staff, who are developmentally disabled or are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.”

The second ordinance introduced, 2018-06, makes group homes a conditional use in a portion of the town’s B-1 zoning district.

“The area in which a group home may be permitted as a conditional use shall be restricted to the area of Old Ocean City Boulevard east of U.S. Route 113 in the B-1 Town Center District,” said Dave Engelhart, the town’s planning director.

He said the ordinance would allow a group home as long as it was approved by the town’s board of appeals as a conditional use and was located in a particular part of town.

“It’s limiting it geographically to the small area that’s within the B-1 Town Center District which is east of Route 113 on Old Ocean City Boulevard, in the vicinity of the hospital,” he said. “It from now on will be a permitted conditional use but just in that small area of town.”

Public hearings on the ordinances are set to take place next month.

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.