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



(June 11, 2015) The Berlin mayor and council discussed several issues during a public meeting at Town Hall on Monday, June 8.
Sandpiper speaks
Steve Ashcraft and Charlie Russell from Sandpiper Energy updated the mayor and council on the recent conversion of Berlin gas lines to natural gas. According to Ashcraft, the company placed more than 100,000 feet of plastic pipe in Berlin, completing the conversion of more than 800 residential homes and 100 businesses in July 2014.
Russell said there was excellent coordination with the town and emergency responders during the conversion process. He added that there were no cast iron or bare steel pipelines in Berlin and spoke to the council about system integrity, leak survey dates and procedures, construction standards, and the company’s public awareness campaign.
“We’re pleased to be here, happy to be a part of the community and looking forward to growing with you,” Russell said.
Bond refinanced
The council voted 4-1 to refinance the Electric 2004A series of infrastructure bonds, a move Finance Director Natalie Saleh said would save the town approximately $250,000 over the next 19 years.
Saleh said the savings would be produced by a decrease in interest rates. At the same time, the town’s credit rating would increase and the duration of the term of the bond would decrease.
At-Large Councilmember Thom Gulyas was the lone “no” vote. Gulyas said he was denied access to specific numbers by the bond company and wondered if the town could take out a low-interest loan and prepay the bond. According to Gulyas, a local bank quoted him with a $500,000 savings over the same time period.
Under the bond program the town took out in 2004, Saleh said, the town would not be able to prepay the bond down. If the town delayed, Saleh added, it would have to wait six months to reapply and would almost certainly face a different interest rate.
A public hearing was opened and closed without comment, and District 4 Councilmember Dean Burrell made the motion to approve the refinance.
Berlin becomes HEAL town
The council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to join the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) campaign.  
According to the organization’s website, the HEAL cities and towns campaign “provides free technical assistance and support to local elected officials and their staff to adopt policies that stem the obesity epidemic and create healthy, prosperous communities in Maryland and Virginia.”
“The essence of this resolution is the town will be recognized for 11 activities we’ve done and continue to do,” Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said. He cited the town’s efforts to enhance parks, build sidewalks, its support of the Walkable/Bikeable Berlin initiative and its support of youth programs through Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services.
Memorial funded
After considering a pair of options, the council voted to approve the funding of the Dr. William Henry Memorial using money from the existing parks budget.
Under a different option, the town would have waited to fund the memorial and would have applied for a grant. Burrell made the motion to immediately fund the memorial at a cost of $4,500 using already budgeted funds.
Outage outed
Electric Utilities Director Tim Lawrence said a brief power outage last Thursday was caused by a tree that fell behind Adkins Hardware. The tree was 15-20 feet from the power lines, he said.
Lawrence blamed the recent heavy rains for downing the rotten tree.
Planning notes
Planning Director Dave Engelhart said on June 3 the Berlin’s Historic District Commission approved one residential addition, one commercial addition and two utility sheds.
Engelhart added that six new home permits had been filed during the last three weeks, a spike in activity driven in part by an upcoming change in the fire code disallowing sprinkler system exceptions in homes not considered new construction.
On June 10, Engelhard said the Planning Commission would hear a proposal to annex a small parcel contiguous to an existing property in Berlin, and would get a first look at the concept for a new Arby’s and Royal Farms in Berlin.
Dollar General update
Commenting on the news that developer Oxford Chase intended to take the denial of a Dollar General site plan to circuit court, Engelhart said he had not received anything in writing as of Monday.
Town Attorney David Gaskill estimated a court date, should the suit take place, would be four-to-six months away.
Two new restaurants
Economic and Development Director Ivy Wells said Leaky Pete’s had opened in Berlin, replacing Tex Mex and Country Cookin’ on 119 North Main Street. Wells added that the Cambridge location of Leaky Pete’s would close during the next few weeks.
Crush and Crabs, Wells said, would open within the next two weeks, filling a long-vacant property on the corner of Route 113 and South Main Street.