Berlin Planning Comm. Backs Annexation

BERLIN –  The Berlin Planning Commission voted 6-0 this week to provide a recommendation in support of the annexation of the I.G. Burton Chevrolet property.

The commission on Wednesday agreed to forward the town council a favorable recommendation regarding the annexation of the I.G. Burton Chevrolet property on Old Ocean City Boulevard. The vote came after a brief presentation by the car dealership’s attorney and no comments from the public.

According to Sandy McCallister, the attorney representing the dealership, the annexation will allow I.G. Burton Chevrolet to connect to town water and sewer but will change little else.

“There’s no development plan, no subdivision, no change in use,” he said. “Nobody’ll drive by the next week and know anything’s different.”

After voting to support the annexation, the commission went on to consider a planned unit development (PUD) revision proposed by Troy Purnell for Purnell Crossing. Purnell explained that while he’d received approval last month to adjust the section of the PUD near the townhouses to include apartments, he was now asking to adjust plans for the portion of the property closer to The Cottages at Berlin. As previously approved, the PUD called for 30 single family homes to be built behind The Cottages, on the right side of Prospect Drive. Purnell said he now wanted to build just 22 houses on that section of the PUD.

“The biggest difference is the lots are all larger,” he said.

Commission members had no objections.

“I don’t see how we can complain about larger lots and less density,” commission member Pete Cosby said.

He added, however, that he wanted Purnell to start illustrating the easement he’d previously discussed that would allow access between the two portions of the PUD.

“I just want to make sure that gets in there,” he said.

The commission approved his request to alter the PUD with a 6-0 vote. When asked about his timeline for the houses, Purnell said he hoped to start construction within the next month and a half.

Citing the recent PUD revisions, commission member Barb Stack said she wanted to discuss the appropriateness of PUDs in Berlin in general. She referenced the apartments approved in the vicinity of the Purnell Crossing townhomes last month. She said the PUD had now been changed drastically from what it had been when the townhouse owners purchased their homes.

Cosby said he didn’t believe it had changed drastically. He said that while it did have more apartments now, it would not have the four-story assisted living facility initially approved. He said that was a more intense use.

“I guess what I’m concerned about with PUDs is it’s a moving target,” Stack said. “I don’t think it’s something that’s beneficial to the town.”

Commission member Ron Cascio said he understood her concern but didn’t think the PUD itself was the problem.

“The problem is it’s a give and take and all too often there’s too much take and not enough giving,” he said.

Cascio said the issue was not the PUD but the way the town did business.

Cosby agreed the town did need to be cautious in its approval process.

“Now if we look at a PUD we’re going to look at it a lot more skeptically,” he said.

He added that the town’s comprehensive plan was tasked with shaping future development.

“That’s where we need to take a serious look,” he said.

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.