By Kara Hallissey, staff writer, and Josh Davis, associate editor
(March 23, 2018) A proposal for a rehabilitation center on William Street in Berlin was apparently withdrawn on Thursday by the applicant.
The home would have required approval by the Berlin Board of Zoning Appeals, but Berlin Planning Director Dave Engelhart said Patrice Hamilton-Ottey of Hope4Recovery, Inc. called his office to withdraw her appeal.
The Board of Zoning Appeals was scheduled to consider the matter on April 4.
Hamilton-Ottey, an Ocean Pines Police detective, founded the Douglas K. Hamilton House for Recovery in the Newton neighborhood of Salisbury last year. The success of that project, which helps addicts turn their lives around, led her to consider opening a similar facility in Berlin. However, meetings with the Berlin Town Council and school board this month met with some resistance.
The Worcester County School Board on Tuesday discussed but declined to endorse the proposed center. Discussion arose at the school board’s session when Berlin resident Raymond Zalewski expressed concerns about the proposed home.
Zalewski, who said he lives near the proposed location on 602 William Street, objected to the facility because the property borders Berlin Intermediate School and a bus stop on William Street.
He said loitering, noise, traffic, littering, foul language and break-ins were major concerns and told the board that residents received no notice about the proposal.
School spokeswoman Carrie Sterrs said more discussion occurred after the open portion of the meeting concluded.
“The Worcester County Board of Education heard a presentation from Hope4Recovery during its closed session, as the issue was presented to the board as one of school safety,” Sterrs said Wednesday. “The board of education expressed its support of the important work Hope4Recovery performs while also expressing the concerns they have heard from their constituents regarding the potential location. The board did not take any formal action on this matter, as any decision-making regarding this proposal lies with the government of the Town of Berlin.”
Mayor Gee Williams, last Monday, said approval of the center would ultimately be up to the Berlin Board of Zoning Appeals. He encouraged the group to get a letter of support from the school board.
At the time, Hamilton-Ottey said she had not met with residents on William Street.
“That’s clearly an unfortunate oversight,” Williams said. “That’s something I would encourage you to do.
“Being fairly familiar with the Town of Berlin and our citizens, personal communication is precious here,” he said. “I wouldn’t leave the residents to be the last folks you interact with.”