Consultant To Share Views At Berlin Growth Discussion; Citizens Encouraged To Attend April 20 Meeting

Consultant To Share Views At Berlin Growth Discussion; Citizens Encouraged To Attend April 20 Meeting
An aerial view of Berlin is pictured. File Photo

BERLIN – The internationally known urbanist and planner who visited Berlin earlier this month will share his thoughts on the town at a public meeting next week.

Citizens are invited to the Berlin library on Thursday, April 20 at 6 p.m. to hear from Dhiru Thadani, the planner who visited the town last week. Thadani was hired to help the town determine how best to grow.

“Berlin is at a critical place in time,” said Ron Cascio, a member of the town’s planning commission who helped bring Thadani to town. “If we want to continue to be and function as a small town, we need to make some rather radical changes to our comp plan.”

In March, the planning commission asked the town council to move forward with hiring Thadani. Cascio, who has been following the planner’s work for years, said that Thadani could help Berlin residents understand growth and determine what they wanted the town to look like in the future. That will help officials update the town’s comprehensive plan.

Berlin Planning Director Dave Englehart said Thadani’s recommendations could also help with the county’s adjustments of growth areas.

“This would affect us for annexations moving forward, land use,” Engelhart said. “It’s time that we do something to protect Berlin’s interests.”

The Berlin Town Council subsequently agreed to spend approximately $8,000 of the $30,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding set aside for a municipal growth discussion to hire Thadani. The consultant arrived in Berlin last week and spent two days walking through the town. Cascio said town representatives drove Thadani through town, walked him through various neighborhoods and brought him to a meeting of the Berlin Historic District Commission. On the second day of his visit, Thadani explored the town core and looked at potential areas for growth.

“All along we met with various townsfolks and had interaction with random folks walking around town,” Cascio said. “All in all, I think he got a really good take on who we are.”


Consultant Dhiru Thadani is pictured taking photos from the Atlantic Hotel porch earlier this month. File Photo

Cascio is hopeful a large section of the community will come to the library Thursday evening to hear Thadani make a presentation regarding what he found in Berlin and ideas for how the town can move forward with growth in a responsible manner. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. in the upstairs meeting room at the library.

“Please make the time to listen and participate in our future, come hear Mr. Thadani explain what we have and how to keep it,” Cascio said.

In a guest commentary published in this paper this week, Cascio expanded on the importance of the citizens being involved in the process.

“Our town is a gem, who doesn’t see that? Of the many small towns that dot the Delmarva Peninsula, we’re one of the fortunate few. We’ve got what everyone wants, but if we open the doors to accommodate everyone who wants in, we kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” said Cascio. “We must protect the value of Berlin, both for those of us lucky enough to be born here, and for those who made the conscious decision to move here and invest our families and fortunes in this wonderful small town.”

During a meeting in January when the town’s planning commission endorsed Thadani coming to Berlin, Planning Commissioner Matt Stoehr expressed excitement in hearing the planner’s take on the historic town.

“I’d love to know if they could find another small town, similar to Berlin, that’s been on the same trajectory, and find out what went right and what went wrong,” Stoehr said.

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.