Berlin Planners To Hear Annexation Request

BERLIN –  The Berlin Planning Commission is expected to consider the annexation of the I.G. Burton Chevrolet property next week.

On Wednesday, July 10, the commission will review the proposed annexation of I.G. Burton Chevrolet on Old Ocean City Boulevard.

“Their function is to look at the site plan and come up with recommendation to pass along for a public hearing of the mayor and council at a later date to consider annexation into the town boundaries,” Planning Director Dave Engelhart told the council last week.

According to Engelhart, while the I.G. Burton Jeep property is in town limits, the I.G. Burton Chevrolet property has always been in the county.

“The I.G. Burton people want to bring the Chevrolet dealership into the town boundaries,” Engelhart said. “They benefit greatly from hooking into our services for water and sewer.”

The planning commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 10. While plans for annexing the car dealership are moving forward, the project proposed by Ernest Gerardi at the intersection of Route 346 and Route 50 is no longer headed toward annexation. Instead, Gerardi plans to seek a rezoning from Worcester County.

Joe Moore, Gerardi’s attorney, said this week that an economic analysis had revealed that it was more cost effective to develop the 18-acre property with on-site wastewater disposal rather than connecting to town sewer. He acknowledged, however, that the project wouldn’t be quite as extensive as it could have been on town sewer. Conceptual plans presented last year, when Gerardi was still considering annexation, showed a convenience store, restaurant, retail space, hotel and car dealership on the site.

“We recognize that our complete development plan will have to be scaled down,” Moore said.

Instead of pursuing annexation to connect to the town’s water and sewer system, Gerardi aims to have county officials rezone the site commercial.

“We’re already in the county growth area so we’re earmarked by the county’s comprehensive plan as a potential site for development,” Moore said.

He added that forgoing the annexation request with the town would save considerable time and expense, as there were several steps to that process.

“Our location is the same,” he said. “The only difference is we’ve decided not to move forward with an annexation into the town which will alleviate the need for additional hearings.”

He expects the Worcester County Planning Commission to consider the rezoning request in August.

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.