Berlin Officials OK Silo Text Amendment

BERLIN – Town officials approved a text amendment this week that will in some cases allow grain silos at breweries.

The Berlin Town Council on Monday approved a text amendment proposed by Burley Oak Brewing Company that will allow grain silos at brewery operations on property zoned B-2 or B-3 as a special exception.

“The beauty of a special exception is it gives the public the opportunity to appear and either support the request, oppose the request or express any concerns,” said Mark Cropper, the attorney representing Burley Oak.

The text amendment Cropper presented this week would allow a grain silo not exceeding 35 feet as a special exception use on property zoned B-2 or B-3 as part of a brewery operation. The amendment received a favorable recommendation from the Berlin Planning Commission last month.

Cropper explained that with a silo as a special exception use, applicants would have to first approach the town’s board of zoning appeals to be granted the special exception. They’d then have to go to the planning commission for site plan approval for the silo.

“It’s enabling legislation only,” Cropper said.

While text amendments are not site specific, Burley Oak’s Adam Davis said in this case, the silo was being sought for a variety of reasons, ranging from worker safety to cost savings. Currently, he said brewery workers spent a significant amount of time unloading pallets of grain with forklifts. Augering the grain in from a silo would reduce the potential for forklift accidents and would cut back on the number of pallets needing to be broken down and bags needing to be thrown away. A silo would also reduce truck traffic on Old Ocean City Boulevard, as the brewery would need fewer grain deliveries since it would be arriving in bulk.

“It’ll be a greener means of brewhouse operations,” Davis said.

Councilman Jack Orris asked about lighting related to the silo. Cropper said details would be worked out when Burley Oak went to the board of appeals, and if the exception is granted, the planning commission.

Councilman Jay Knerr pointed out that while there would be less unloading with a silo, there could potentially be more noise as the brewery’s internal auger would be running more often as it moved the grain. He also asked how long it would take for a grain truck to fill the silo.

Davis said it likely wouldn’t take more than an hour and that grain deliveries would only be made during business hours.

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.