Berlin Planners Support Rezoning Requests

BERLIN – Rezoning requests for the former Harley Davidson property on Route 50 and the former Southern States on Broad Street moved forward with favorable recommendations from the Berlin Planning Commission.

The commission on Wednesday agreed to send both requests on to the Berlin Town Council with favorable recommendations. Two Farms Inc., the company that owners the former Harley Davidson property, is seeking a B-2 designation more in keeping with neighboring properties while purchasers of the former Southern States building are pursuing a B-2 designation to turn it into a carryout restaurant and market.

Attorney Joe Moore, representing Two Farms Inc., told the commission that his clients were seeking a rezoning on the basis that a mistake had been made when the property was zoned B-1 Town Center. He said the former Harley Davidson property had been labeled B-1 when it was annexed into town at the same time as the adjacent school, which was also B-1.  The property was used as a food store and then as a motorcycle shop, however, both uses Moore said would have been better suited to a B-2 designation.

“Basically all the uses that have been at that property should have more appropriately been in B-2,” he said.

Moore added that the Royal Farms across the street was B-2 as were the businesses along Route 346.

“We are basically a continuation of that yet we are zoned downtown business district,” he said.

The commission voted 5-0 to forward the rezoning request on to the town council with a favorable recommendation.

Attorney Mark Cropper told the commission his client, David Diehl, was asking to rezone the former Southern States building on Broad Street from M-1 Light Industrial to B-2. Cropper said that while all the commercial properties in Berlin that lined the railroad track had initially been zoned industrial, the use at the Broad Street site had always been more commercial than industrial.

“There’s been a transition away from industrial use in the town,” he said.

He added that while in theory any use allowed in the B-2 district would be permitted on the site if it were rezoned, his client wanted to set up a seafood market and set up space for various craft vendors.

“A commercial zoning classification on this property is actually more compatible than the industrial existing zoning classification,” Cropper said.

When asked if the business coming in to the building would be year-round, Diehl said he wasn’t yet sure.

“We haven’t really figured it out yet,” Diehl said. “Our intention is for it to be seasonal.”

The commission voted 5-0 to support the proposed rezoning.

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.