Berlin Schedules Input Meetings On Comp Plan Addition

BERLIN – The town will host a trio of meetings to gather community input as a resiliency element is created for Berlin’s comprehensive plan.

Citizens will have a chance to share their concerns regarding climate change and resiliency at three meetings this month. They’re scheduled for March 14, 16 and 18.

“The comprehensive plan is your master policy document when it comes to land use and land use decisions,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said. “Given my understanding of climate change and the science around climate change and what I see from flood experiences here, it’s something we need to start planning for and accounting for as soon as possible.”

Berlin received a grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last fall to aid in development of a resiliency element for its comprehensive plan. The town has engaged the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center to host this month’s meetings and then draft the resilience element for the plan.

According to Allen, each meeting will include a presentation followed by group exercises designed to provide town officials with citizen input.

“We wanted to talk to the community about climate change, growth and financial sustainability,” Allen said. “In my mind, those things are all intimately connected … The goal here is to get feedback from the community about their concerns on those topics and what they’d like to see us do in those areas.”

She said an example of something that might come out of the meetings is a community interest in the town assessing any infrastructure that could be at risk based on sea level rise predictions. Allen also expects some discussion on financial sustainability, particularly considering that elected officials are currently reviewing rate and tax increases.

“I think we’re at a really critical juncture in all of those areas, from a climate standpoint and a growth standpoint and from a financial standpoint,” Allen said. “This is a really good conversation for the community to have in terms of what they’d like to see us do going forward.”

Meetings are scheduled for March 14 from 6-9 p.m. at Buckingham Elementary School, March 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library, and March 18 from 6-9 p.m. at the Flower Street Multi-Purpose Building. Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services will offer free childcare during the March 14 and March 16 meetings.

“Part of the reason we picked three different dates, two different times in three different locations was to try to give everybody an opportunity to come,” Allen said, stressing that this was the start of the town’s comprehensive plan review process. “This is the beginning of the conversation we’re going to have for the comprehensive plan update. We’ll have additional meetings but this is going to really help us get a handle on which parts of the comprehensive plan we should be focusing on.”

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.