BERLIN – A proposal to bring a business that gives people the chance to play with construction equipment to Berlin got mixed reviews from town officials this week.
Frederick resident Mark Stevanus discussed plans to bring Heavy Metal Playground, a business that gives people the chance to scoop dirt, stack tires and smash cars with heavy equipment, to Berlin with members of the town’s planning commission on Wednesday. While there was interest in the idea, commission members couldn’t get past noise concerns.
“I love the concept but people would have our heads,” commission member Ron Cascio said.
Stevanus told the commission he currently operated Heavy Metal Playground in Boonsboro and had wanted to set a up a location in the Ocean City area for some time. With the help of NAI Coastal, he identified a potential location on the north side of Evans Road, just west of the railroad tracks. Commission member Newt Chandler owns the property and recused himself from Wednesday’s discussion.
Before Stevanus even launched his presentation, commission members brought up the issue of noise. According to Stevanus, he uses the Bobcat E35, which he described as a small machine that emitted noise in the 78 to 93 decibel range. For comparison, he said a vacuum cleaner was 80 decibels while 93 decibels was the equivalent of a lawnmower.
He said he’d operated the Boonsboro location for three seasons successfully and had hosted corporate events for companies such as Google, Amazon and Cisco. He said the facility was also used to certify and train individuals interested in getting jobs operating heavy equipment.
“There’s only a couple other businesses like it in the United States,” he said.
When asked about the beeping noise typically heard when heavy equipment backs up, Stevanus said that for the most part the Bobcats would be stationary, as the cab was capable of spinning around while the machine itself was still. He said he planned to start with four machines and hopefully increase from there.
“If there’s a demand we want to grow our business,” he said.
Commission member John Barrett, who lives near the proposed location, was quick to object to the proposal.
“It’s a terrible location…,” he said. “It’s a residential area. It just doesn’t seem close to being the right fit.”
He said he’d have to visit the existing Heavy Metal Playground to actually judge the amount of noise such a business would produce.
“I don’t want to be disruptive,” Stevanus said. “That’s why we’re here, to have this discussion.”
He added that the other location had not received complaints but that it was in a busier area.
Commission member Pete Cosby said he shared Barrett’s worries.
“I like the idea,” he said. “I think it’s a unique business. I’d love to get this around our town. I think it’d bring people in and people would love it. I think it’s very interesting. But I’ve got to be convinced the noise is not going to disrupt.”
When asked about the possibility of modifying the exhaust on the machines to make them quieter, Stevanus said that wouldn’t work because they were leased machines.
Cascio encouraged Stevanus to look for a more suitable location in Berlin.
“Come back with a better location or Tesla bobcats and you’re in good shape,” Cascio said.