Input Sought On Berlin Comp Plan Addition

BERLIN –   Town officials are encouraging citizens to share their thoughts on a resilience element set to be added to Berlin’s comprehensive plan.

Citizens have until April 30 to provide comment on the resilience element that has been prepared by the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center as an addition to Berlin’s comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan, which guides the future of the town, must be reviewed and updated every 10 years.

“We need the public to participate and buy into the process and the plan,” said Mary Bohlen, Berlin’s deputy town administrator.

After receiving a $20,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the town worked with the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC) to create a resilience element for its comprehensive plan last year. The town held several public input meetings in the spring of 2019 and  EFC’s Brandi Espinola spent the ensuing months working with town staff to write the resilience element.

The town received a draft of the element in December. In the weeks since, the lengthy document has been reviewed by town staff as well as members of the Berlin Planning Commission. It is now available on the town’s website. Bohlen encourages citizens to read it and share their thoughts.

“The document is available as a Google Doc, allowing visitors to make comments directly on the site, and as a PDF, which will allow comments to be submitted via email,” Bohlen said.

Comments left on the Google Doc so far decry the length of the resilience element and question its purpose.

“This is an absolute waste of time and municipal resources,” resident Jason Walter wrote. “There is no requirement to invest in or to include this proposed element into our comprehensive plan. The Town of Berlin has no ability to control the unknown or mitigate the ever-fluctuating suggested impact of the climate change boogeyman.”

Walter said this week he was disappointed only comments on the document so far were from him and someone listed as “anonymous.” He said the input sessions had been steered by the several non-residents who’d attended the meetings.

“We were supposed to participate once but it was mostly the same crowd voting to support the same points in each meeting,” he said.

The draft resilience element can be found online at on the “Administration” page under the “Departments & Services” tab.  Officials are expected to approve the final document later this year.

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.