HDC Demands Removal Of Unapproved Additions At Berlin Tiki Bar, Threatens Fines

BERLIN– Unapproved changes to an iconic Berlin building prompted harsh criticism of a local business owner by a local commission this week.

Members of the Berlin Historic District Commission (HDC) lambasted local property owner Bryan Brushmiller this week after unapproved changes were made at Tiki Tim’s, the bar behind The Globe.

“When you purchase a historic building, a huge responsibility goes along with that,” HDC member Carol Rose said.

On Wednesday, Burley Oak’s Matt Burrier approached the HDC seeking approval for changes that had already been made at Tiki Tim’s. A roof of the same clear panels already at the bar was added to connect the main building to the Tiki Tim’s bar and a wall has been added between The Globe and the Atlantic Hotel. Burrier apologized for seeking approval after the fact but said he hadn’t realized adding more of the same material that was already there and couldn’t be seen from the main road required approval.

Nornie Bunting, HDC chair, said Brushmiller, who was not in attendance, knew he’d needed HDC approval to make the changes and had deliberately moved forward with them anyway. He added that he did not like the way the additions, particularly a PVC pipe on the back, looked from outside the building.

“This could have been approved in a better way,” he said, adding that HDC members were charged with protecting the integrity of the town’s historic district.

Commission member Mary Moore agreed. She said there was also a significant amount of trash outside the building.

“It should cause shame to the owners,” she said.

Rose said the property’s connections didn’t care. She said the Gay Street side of the property looked like a dump, despite the fact that other property owners on that street had made efforts to beautify the area. She added that she was disgusted with the situation, particularly since the HDC had approved fencing for that side of the property that had never been installed.

“The time has come your owner is not going to do whatever the hell he wants anymore,” she said.

HDC member John Holloway said that when a property was purchased in the historic district there were responsibilities that went with that and a process that needed to be followed when changes were made to a structure.

“I personally feel it was all intentionally skipped,” he said, adding that if Brushmiller had met with the board before making the changes they could have worked together on the project. “I think it looks horrible.”

HDC member Laura Stearns said people had told her the Tiki Tim’s area looked like a shantytown.

“I don’t think it’s attractive,” she said.

HDC member Brian Robertson said the goal when making changes to structures in the historic district was to make it seem like the building had always looked that way. Bunting said that despite the criticism from the board, they wanted to see the business succeed. He added that Brushmiller had done a great job with Burley Oak Brewery but that the improvements at The Globe property showed no imagination.

The board voted unanimously to give Brushmiller 10 days to remove the changes he’d made and to give him 60 days to submit a new plan for the property. No plan will be approved before the fencing approved several years ago is installed. Commission members noted that Brushmiller could be fined up to $400 a day if he didn’t comply.

When contacted after the meeting, Brushmiller, who is out of the country, stressed that he didn’t want to do anything that would negatively impact the town.

“It’s in my best interest to make sure a building I own in Berlin is the epitome of historic relevance and complies to all the rules and regulations,” he said. “We did not know we needed approval to add to the outdoor area since we had used in like kind materials previously approved by the HDC.”

As far as the changes mandated by the board, Brushmiller said the situation was being addressed. He added that he’d built and renovated multiple properties in Berlin and that it was counterintuitive for him to do things that didn’t benefit the town.

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.