By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(March 4, 2021) A site plan for a beige Auto Zone store that would replace the former McDonald’s building on Route 50 in Berlin was approved by the Berlin Planning Commission last Wednesday at a virtual special meeting.
Applicant Kevin Murphy told the commission the new landscaping plan showed additional trees as requested with three trees at the front of the site. Trees were selected based on the requested 15-foot or 20-foot height.
“It’s nice to see the trees,” said Commission member Pete Cosby. “Is it possible to get any on the east or west side or is that not possible to fit in?”
Eugene Dvorchak, senior engineer at MDM Surveyors & Engineers, responded that there is a storm line that runs down one side where there is some grass, which connects the rear stormwater management system to the stormwater management system in the front of the property.
“The day after our previous meeting for this site plan approval, Mr. Dvorchak, he reached out to our stormwater engineer, EA Engineering, and myself, and the three of us talked about it and they found a way to put these trees in in the front that will still satisfy stormwater requirements and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and it does not interfere with view lines for State Highway for U.S. [Route] 50,” said Dave Engelhart, Berlin’s planning director.
Murphy submitted two color variations for review – a gray color scheme or a beige, earth-tone color scheme.
“Auto Zone’s first choice is the gray color scheme,” he said.
Murphy also discussed the architectural changes made from the first site plan, including four faux windows, three different roof height variations, a decorative cornice on the roofline and pilasters that protrude from the main building made with split face block.
He added that the parapets have always been incorporated in the design.
“I’ll just say, Kevin, thank you for making all the changes. It looks great,” said Commission member Austin Purnell. “I know it was some extra work on your guys’ end and a delay from last time, but it looks great. I like it, and I’d say go with the earth-tone. That’s my opinion.”
The commission members favored the earth-tone option.
The Auto Zone project passed unanimously with Commission member Ron Cascio and alternate David “DJ” Lockwood absent.
Responding to Murphy, Engelhart said the project does not need to proceed for approval from the Berlin mayor and Town Council because the planning commission approves site plans. Engelhart added that the mayor and council would only be involved if the project involved annexation.