Plan For ‘Private Funded Community Green Space’ Earns Historic District Commission Support

Plan For ‘Private Funded Community Green Space’ Earns Historic District Commission Support
A plan to convert a vacant lot at the corner of Jefferson and Gay streets into a community green space was endorsed by the Berlin Historic District Commission. Submitted Renderings

BERLIN – Plans for an outdoor special event space received approval from the Berlin Historic District Commission.

The commission on Wednesday approved plans for a community green space proposed by the owners of The Buzz Meadery. They’re in the process of purchasing a vacant lot on Jefferson Street and want to convert it to the Berlin Commons, a space they’ll host special events and invite the public to use.

“We’re thinking of this as a private funded community green space,” said The Buzz Meadery’s Brett Hines.

Hines and his wife Megan told the commission they wanted to purchase a lot currently owned by Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County—which a few years ago had plans to construct a mixed-use building on the site—and use it to host special events. Megan Hines, who pointed out both she and her husband were teachers, said they wanted to serve mead at the site on weekends during special events that could feature artisan and family farm vendors.

“The Berlin Commons is not a tap house,” she said. “That’s not the primary focus.”

Her husband, who likened it to a park with picnic tables, said that when they weren’t hosting events there, the space, which will be fenced in, could serve as outdoor seating for the public. He hopes to see people get carryout from local eateries and sit at one of the picnic tables to enjoy it.

Commission member Mary Moore was quick to praise the concept.

“I’m just very impressed with your creativity,” she said.

Other commission members expressed concern about the portable toilet shown on the plan, but Planning Director Dave Engelhart said the code wouldn’t permit that anyway. When asked about how the property was going to generate revenue, Brett Hines said The Buzz Meadery had a state winery license.

“We’re being extremely creative,” he said. “Under our Maryland winery license we’re allowed to do 32 special events a year that are three days in life. The local liquor board doesn’t have any jurisdiction on what we are doing. That is probably a surprise to a lot of people.”

Hines said that alcohol wouldn’t be permitted at the space when The Buzz Meadery wasn’t holding events there.

Carol Rose, chair of the commission, pointed out that as property owners they would be responsible for the property. Commission member Nornie Bunting expressed similar concern.

“I’m just worried about excessive parties that could potentially happen,” he said.

Megan Hines said they were planning to install security cameras on the property.

Pg.-23-B-150x150.jpgEngelhart—who received 87 letters in support of the project and two in opposition—said he’d discussed the Berlin Commons proposal with the police chief and his concerns related to parking and enforcement issues after dark.

“That whole section now is busy between the Atlantic Hotel, Globe, Pop’s, Lost Pantry,” he said. “It could be one big block party. That was his concern.”

Brett and Megan Hines said security at the site was their primary concern as well and that they were open to any suggestions on how to ensure there were no problems at the property.

“We live here with our kids,” Brett Hines said. “We don’t want that to be a nuisance.”

Moore said she was envisioning the space as a place for couples to enjoy lunch, not a venue for a rock concert.

“I see them as a very intelligent young couple with a very creative idea that will be an asset to Berlin,” she said.

Brett Hines said they hoped to close on the property at the end of the month once they had plan approval from the historic district commission as well as the town’s planning commission. He said ideally the space would be open by July 4.

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.