Berlin Zoning Board Approves New Home Variance Request

BERLIN – The town’s board of appeals approved a variance that will allow for a new home on William Street.

The Berlin Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted 3-1 last week to grant a variance that will allow for construction of a new single-family home at 605 William St. BZA member Woody Bunting objected, noting that the lot was large enough to fit a slightly smaller house without a variance.

“I don’t have a problem with the house,” he said. “I’m talking more about the kind of a precedent we set.”

Attorney Mark Cropper told the board his clients were seeking a variance to the side yard setback requirement in order to put a manufactured home on the William Street property. The town’s code requires an eight-foot setback on each side of the dwelling, a requirement the proposed home meets, but also requires a combined 20 feet of setback. Cropper said the need for the minimum setback as well as the combined setback was unusual.

“This is a very unique provision of the code,” he said. “Everywhere I do land development I’ve never run into this.”

west o bottle shop

Cropper said neighboring property owners did not object to the variance request. He added that the lot was not perfectly square and in order for the house to be aligned properly, the variance was needed.

Bunting said the lot in question was 79 feet wide, when the town’s minimum was 70 feet.

“You’re in here asking for a variance when you have a lot that’s nine feet wider than a majority of the properties allowed in an R-2 zone,” he said. “I don’t see in this particular case where there’s a hardship.”

Cropper said his clients wanted to position the house on the lot in a way that was consistent with the neighborhood.

“This house is what they believe to be most appropriate for this lot and for the neighbors, to keep property values up,” he said.

When Bunting said that most people had complied with the combined eight-foot and 20-foot setback requirements, Cropper said variances were site specific.

“I don’t think a ruling in this matter with regard to this lot creates a precedent that would be binding …,” he said. “Variances are all each and of themselves site specific.”

The board voted 3-1, with Bunting opposed, to approve the variance.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

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.