Group Homes Now Permitted By Berlin Code

BERLIN – The Berlin Town Council approved two ordinances this week adding provisions for group homes to the town’s code.

On Monday, the council approved an ordinance defining group homes and then approved a second ordinance allowing them to exist as a conditional use in a portion of the B-1 zoning district.

Mayor Gee Williams said the ordinances would ensure that group homes were now addressed in the town code.

“I think it’s great that now, as hopefully more and more things are done to help people that are in this state … we’ll know exactly what we’re doing and hopefully that will help people that might want to have a home here,” Williams said.

According to town officials, when the connections of Hope4Recovery approached the town about establishing a recovery house in Berlin, planning staff realized there was no provision for that in the town code. Though the Hope4Recovery facility, which is now open on Old Ocean City Boulevard, was permitted as a boarding house, the ordinances approved this week ensure that group homes specifically are addressed in the code going forward.

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.”

Ordinance 2018-06 makes group homes a conditional use in a section of the B-1 district. Such facilities will be restricted to the area of Old Ocean City Boulevard east of Route 113.

“When this was developed and talked about by the council, we thought it was a good idea to have an area that is as close in proximity to Atlantic General Hospital as possible,” Williams said.

Councilman Dean Burrell asked what the proposed ordinance would mean for a group home that was already in existence.

“Under this ordinance it would be a nonconforming use that could continue,” Planning Director Dave Engelhart said.

The council voted unanimously to approve both ordinances.

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.