BERLIN – Developers shared updated concept plans for a residential development near the intersection of Germantown Road and Route 113 in Berlin.
Representatives of Karbyte Enterprize LLC met with the Berlin Planning Commission last week to review plans for a townhouse and duplex project proposed for 12 acres in Berlin. Though the last iteration of the project, presented in June, featured a retail component, that has been removed and the number of homes had been reduced.
“Having received your comments we went back to the drawing board and made some revisions and alterations,” said Mark Cropper, the attorney representing the developers.
In June, the group presented the commission with a trio of concept options for the site. The preferred option at the time featured a 9,000 square foot retail space, 32 townhouses, 13 villas and 44 condos.
Salvatore Benvenga told the commission last week they’d taken the comments the commission made about that proposal into consideration as they’d tweaked the plan. At last week’s meeting he presented the commission with two possibilities—a townhouse and duplex project or a townhouse only concept.
Benvenga said his preferred option was the townhouse and duplex scheme, which had a total of 52 units.
“This proposal provides 35 duplex and 15 townhomes,” he said.
He added that because the commission had suggested the inclusion of amenities at the last meeting he’d also worked in a pool, a pickleball court and a playground.
“We do want to provide value and a sense of community for the Town of Berlin,” he said.
Benvenga said the other option for the development was a townhouse scheme that was made up of 64 townhouses.
“In both of these options we incorporated amenities, we also have shown a mulch walking trail around the perimeter of the property, again to bring a sense of community and value to the town of berlin,” he said.
Commission member Ron Cascio said he liked the scale of duplexes rather than townhouses.
“We have enough of that,” he said.
Benvenga said his company preferred the mixed option as well. When asked if the units would be rentals, he said they would not. As far as whether the units would be two or three stories, Benvenga said there would be some of each.
“We’re still in the process of doing some market research to determine what would be most appropriate and desirable,” he said.
Benvenga said the proposed design included some on-street parking areas for additional parking.
“We could have extended it more but we didn’t want to encroach into the wetlands,” he said.
Commission members praised the idea of including some additional parking areas.
“We’ve also allocated two handicapped accessible spaces on either side of the central block,” Benvenga said.
Chris Denny, chair of the commission, asked what the price range would be for the proposed homes. Benvenga said that while the price would depend on what the market value was, he was expecting the homes to be in the upper $300,000 to low $400,000 range.
“We’re not looking to go super high, exclusive,” he said. “The goal is to make this work.”
Denny said that there was potential for the houses to become short-term rentals. Benvenga said there would be a homeowners association that would develop standards for the community.
“It would be part of the discussion,” he said.
Berlin residents Gina and Marie Velong expressed concern about the project’s stormwater management and stormwater’s potential impact on neighboring areas.
“We need assurances that’s going to be actually checked and monitored,” Gina Velong said.
Marie Velong also brought up the issue of potentially connecting the development to other parts of Berlin.
“This is something I think you should have in mind when you’re approving these types of developments,” she said.
Commission member Pete Cosby said he always considered possibilities for interconnection.
“This particular project is situated such that the opportunity doesn’t exist,” he said. “You’ve got protected wetlands behind it. If we see the opportunity we encourage it.”
Cascio agreed that while commission members might want to make the town more walkable and bikeable, it was hard when it was built piece by piece over centuries.
“It’s extremely difficult to do that in a town that’s a couple hundred years old,” he said.
Berlin resident Kate Patton had questions about forest conservation on the site.
Planning Director Dave Engelhart said forest conservation had already been recorded with the property’s deed and that the town relied on the county to review that.
Commission members said they were pleased Benvenga had worked in the amenities they’d suggested.
“I think this is on the right track,” commission member Matt Stoehr said.
In response to the commission’s input, developers said they would proceed with plans for the townhouse/duplex option. The property, which is currently zoned part B-1 and part R-1, would need to be rezoned as part of the process.