By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(June 6, 2019) A revision to an ordinance regarding variances that would change a phrase to reflect civil law got a first reading during a Berlin Town Council meeting last Tuesday.
Planning Director Dave Engelhart said officials became aware of an issue regarding the ordinance’s current language during a March Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, when an applicant read the ordinance to authenticate the need for a variance based on “hardship.”
The current language in the ordinance states “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which Town Attorney David Gaskill said is something used when dealing with criminal law.
“That’s a standard for the criminal court that’s required to convict somebody of a crime,” Gaskill said.
Engelhart said Board of Zoning Appeals Chairman Joe Moore, who is a partner in the Ocean City law firm Williams, Moore, Shockley & Harrison, said “he never in 30-plus years of being on the Board of Zoning Appeals realized that that language was in there.”
If approved, the text amendment would change the ordinance from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of the evidence.”
Engelhart also said the ordinance will be advertised until a public hearing during the mayor and councils’ June 24 meeting.