Berlin Zoning Board Approves Variance

BERLIN – The town’s board of zoning appeals approved a variance request that will allow for a new garage at a Main Street home.

The board voted 3-0 last Wednesday to approve a variance that will enable a Main Street couple to build a garage within two feet of their property line. The request was supported by two members of the Berlin Historic District Commission (HDC).

“We feel it would be a good thing for the historic district and that property,” said Carol Rose, chair of HDC.

Homeowners Daniel and Naquelle Jacobs initially approached the board of appeals last month seeking a reduction in the required side yard setback from six feet to two feet. The variance, they explained, would allow them to replace their dilapidated garage with a larger one. The board tabled the request so that town staff would have a chance to consult with the fire marshal regarding the fact that the new building would be within a few feet of the Jacobs’ neighbor’s garage.

Planning Director Dave Engelhart told the board Wednesday that the fire marshal would have no involvement in the garage unless there was a dwell-ing unit involved.

Prior to board deliberations, Naquelle Jacobs explained that the garage was being proposed for this particular location so that a 161-year-old tree in the backyard wouldn’t be disturbed. She added that a new garage would be more aesthetically pleasing than the existing structure.

Rose told the board that the HDC had already approved the garage and considered it an attractive addition to the neighborhood.

“Our board unanimously approved the structure they want to construct,” she said.

Bryan Brushmiller, who lives next door to the Jacobs and shares a driveway with them, told the board he too supported the plan for a new garage.

“I think it’s aesthetically pleasing,” he said, adding that its location fit in with the shared driveway.

The board voted 3-0 to approve the variance request. Chairman Joe Moore cited the importance of the historic tree.

“One of the things that I believe does make their circumstances a bit unique is the tree…,” he said. “My home is also in the historic district, it’s down the street. My house was built in 1920 and I have two sycamore trees in the front yard. They’re going to soon be a hundred years old and I believe that they do have a significance, particularly in the historic district.”

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.