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Planning Commission recommends rezoning

By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer

The Berlin Planning Commission unanimously approved to recommend to the mayor and council a zoning change for 115 Broad Street with the proposed use of a seafood market during its meeting on July 8.

(July 16, 2020) The Berlin Planning Commission unanimously agreed to recommend to the mayor and council the rezoning of two properties to B-2 Shopping District at its meeting last Wednesday.

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

A specific use for the property has not been determined.

Joseph Moore of the Law Offices of Williams, Moore, Shockley & Harrison, submitted 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.

“All of the uses that have been at that property should more appropriately have been in the B-2 zone in Berlin instead of the B-1 downtown retail district,” Moore said.

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.

Moore added that all the surrounding areas, except for the property in discussion, are zoned as B-2.

The property was zoned as B-1 Town Center District upon an annexation that included property for Stephen Decatur Middle and High Schools.

B-1 Town Center permits uses of hotels and motels, restaurants, cafes, retail businesses, theaters, automobile service stations and dwellings above street level floors where street level floors are utilized as commercial or retail.

B-2 zoning allows more commercial use, Moore said.

The B-2 Shopping District builds on the permitted uses as regulated in B-1 Town Center with additional uses such as produce stands, taverns, nightclubs, parking lots, animal hospitals, bakeries, laundry services, wholesale business and churches.

The commission agreed with Moore that the property should be rezoned to be compatible with the surrounding properties.

The commission also agreed to recommend a zoning change for 115 Broad Street, formerly the Southern States location, from M-1 Light Industrial to B-2 Shopping District.

In his application, David Diehl said the character of the neighborhood where the property is located has changed with an increase in population, and there is no longer the need for light industrial or heavier commercial uses.

Diehl stated that B-2 Shopping District is a more appropriate zoning classification with the property’s proximity to the downtown business district and residential areas.

“It is a mistake to have this property zoned industrial verses commercial. It probably should have been changed back in 2010 in the most recent comprehensive update of the zoning map,” said Mark Cropper, Diehl’s attorney.

The proposed use of the property is a family-owned seafood market, which will offer crabs and a limited menu mainly for carryout.

Diehl said currently the intention is to operate seasonally.

During the public hearing, Planning Director David Engelhart said a storm water management plan would have to be established before adding parking at the site.

When the hearing was adjourned, Engelhart thanked Planning Commission member John Barrett for his contributions to the commission.

The July 8 meeting was Barrett’s last meeting as he is moving outside of the district.

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