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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


‘Ping-pong’ battle over DG continues

(July 30, 2015) Although papers were filed in June by Oxford Chase Development Inc., no court date has yet been set in the developer’s quest to build a new Dollar General store near the intersection of Old Ocean City Boulevard and Healthway Drive in Berlin.
This week, Oxford Chase Vice President John Camp cried foul, accusing the Town of Berlin of using stalling tactics.
“We are trying to get transcripts of prior commission hearings and the town is dragging their feet in getting that information to us,” he said. “The town is causing this delay and they’re dragging their feet in getting documentation needed so that we can go forward.”
The case has ping-ponged between the courts and two town commissions since the developer originally a requested a building permit last December.
In March, the town’s planning commission unanimously recommended a veto of the site plan because of traffic concerns. Planning Director Dave Engelhart agreed and signed a decision to that effect on March 25.
Oxford Chase followed with its first lawsuit and, on April 23, a circuit court judge ordered the Berlin Board of Appeals to consider the case. Then, in May, the appeals board voted 3-1 to side with Engelhart and the planning commission.
The developer again filed to take the matter to circuit court on June 3.
“The decision that was made was wrong,” Camp said. “I think it’s political and we’re going to court to get results. If we didn’t think that we were right, we wouldn’t do it, but we are right.
“The planning commission’s decision was in error for a number of reasons, and that’s why we have to go to circuit court,” Camp added.
Engelhart said the town was not intentionally causing the delay but that it is waiting to receive the records from a third-party transcriptionist.
“She has them and I’m waiting for her to finish them,” he said. “We have 60 days to comply. Sometime in August they have to have them in the court’s hands, so they’ll have them. We’re not dragging our feet.”
Town Attorney David Gaskill said there are two possible outcomes in circuit court: the ruling could either be confirmed, or remanded back to the appeals commission.
If the latter happens, Gaskill said the outcome of the second appeals commission hearing would be a formality.
“If the court tells the board of appeals that they were incorrect and have to do something, then the board will certainly do that,” he said.  
In addition, Atlantic General Hospital, which objected to the Dollar General site plan during the planning commission hearing, has filed as an interested party. If the court rules in favor of Oxford Chase, Gaskill said either the town or AGH could file an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.