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Berlin mayor and council approve rezoning

By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer

The Berlin Mayor and Council unanimously approved to rezone the former Harley-Davidson facility at 10712 Ocean Gateway to B-2 Shopping District during its meeting on Monday.

(Aug. 13, 2020) The Berlin Mayor and Council agreed that rezonings were in order for two properties Monday, following findings by the Berlin Planning Commission that mistakes had been made in the original zonings.

The first case was to rezone the property at 10712 Ocean Gateway from B-1 Town Center Zone to B-2 Shopping District.

Attorney Joseph Moore of the Law Offices of Williams, Moore, Shockley & Harrison, presented the application to rezone the former Harley-Davidson facility, which is in the corporate limits of the Town of Berlin and is owned by Two Farms Inc. T/A Royal Farms.

“The reason we were zoned B-1 is because we got annexed at the same time as the Stephen Decatur High School property, and it was annexed B-1 because that’s all they needed,” Moore said. “In my application I have set forth what I believe is a mistake.

“And the mistake is that the two uses, after it was constructed, of course, as a supermarket, have been a proposed automobile sales facility and then the actual Harley-Davidson use. Neither of those uses are allowed under the Berlin code in the B-1 downtown district,” Moore continued.

Those uses are permitted under B-2 Shopping District, according to the town code.

The subject property at the southerly side of U.S. Route 50 and east side of Seahawk Road is adjacent to a property that was annexed as B-2 Shopping District, which demonstrates that a mistake was made in the zoning classification.

In addition, the surrounding Worcester County properties are zoned as C-2 Commercial, “which in the county is the comparable zoning to B-2 in the town,” Moore said.

Furthermore, the rezoning classification is in compliance with Berlin’s Comprehensive Plan.

“It is not even in the comprehensive plan that we should be zoned the same as downtown,” Moore added.

Moore also pointed to the 8.5 percent increase in population since the original zoning classification in Berlin.

No questions or comments were submitted prior to or during the public hearing.

The mayor and council agreed with Moore that the property should be rezoned to be compatible with the surrounding properties and to comply with proper commercial uses.

The mayor and council also agreed with the testimony of David Diehl, the buyer of 115 Broad Street, and his attorney Mark Cropper to rezone the formerly Southern States location, from M-1 Light Industrial to B-2 Shopping District because of a mistake in zoning.

Diehl said present and future transportation patterns are consistent with the proposed uses upon rezoning.

Diehl also agreed with the Berlin Planning Commission’s findings that the original M-1 Light Industrial zoning was no longer a compatible use considering the adjacent properties and the neighboring area had seen significant changes over time with less industrial purposes.

The commission also found that the proximity to the downtown commercial district made the uses permitted in the proposed B-2 zoning classification more appropriate for the Broad Street property.

Lastly, the rezoning was found to be in compliance with the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

During the Planning Commission meeting on July 8, Diehl said the proposed use of the property is a family-owned seafood market, which will offer crabs and a limited menu mainly for carryout.

Again, no questions or comments were submitted prior to or during the public hearing.

However, after the hearing closed resident Jason Walter asked on the Facebook Livestream thread if that end of Harrison Avenue is included as a contiguous part of this parcel. Planning Director Dave Engelhart replied that it was.