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Berlin Planning Commission considers housing proposals

By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer

(June 22, 2023) The dearth of affordable housing in the area is about to be addressed in Berlin, where developers are proposing a pair of projects that could add more than 100 residential units to the local supply.

   The Berlin Planning Commission reviewed concept plans for two housing developments last Wednesday, while also approving a site plan for a business project.

In the first residential project, Chris Carbaugh and Eric Davis came before the planning committee to discuss the 20-unit townhouse development they want to build on 2.8 acres off Bay Street in Berlin.

The concept calls for 780-square-foot, one-story, two-bedroom units with two parking spaces. The developers told the commission they expect the rental units to go for $1,400-1,500 a month.

They said their goal is to provide more affordable housing in the area, with Davis noting there are five complexes surround this property that enjoy 100 percent occupancy at similar prices.

Currently, several single-family home rentals occupy the site but reportedly are not well maintained. The property has been on the market for a while, according to Dave Englehart, planning director for the Town of Berlin.

Planning Commissioner Ron Cascio suggested the developers consider enhancing the elevation, or facade, of the homes to make it feel like it belongs in Berlin.

 “The elevation is far from acceptable,” Cascio said.

Other commissioners suggested the addition of front porches to make them more coastal and welcoming, and member Matthew Stoehr suggested additional parking be added to the plan to accommodate visitors to the community.

The current plan provides one acre of green space on the property.

The second development presented was by Karbyte Enterprises LLC for a mix of retail, townhomes, condos and villas at the intersection of Route 113 and Germantown Road in Berlin.

Mark Cropper of the law firm Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy and Almand represented the Karbyte team, which presented three different site development options. Their preferred option was 2A, which was the densest development plan and included 45 townhouses and 44 condominiums for a total of 89 units.

Two other plans, 3A included 61 units and 5A included 48 units.

“This development would bring affordable housing to Berlin,” said local real estate agent Lauren Britt Hudson, who was hired by Karbyte to advise the team on local housing needs.

Commission member Pete Cosby, however, took issue with the three-story buildings proposed in plan 2A and suggested that the 5A iteration was more in tune with the area.

“Where will families with kids play? There needs to be more open space and some amenities,” Commissioner Newt Chandler said.

He suggested that if Karbyte planned to market to families, they needed a playground and a pool.

Karbyte’s preferred 2A plan provided only one-third of an acre of parkland.

Each plan includes 9,000 feet of retail space. Commission members suggested they consider adding a second floor to the retail space for a community center.

Karbyte representatives said they would take the recommendations under consideration.

The final project the commission reviewed was the site plan for the Berlin Beer Company at 115 Broad Street. The business, proposed by Glenn and Adam Davis, would include a brewhouse, beer garden, bar and restaurant. The pair had gone before the commission in May and had incorporated its recommendations in the new plan.

That effort was rewarded with the plans unanimous approval.

Adam Davis said he will start demolition now and work on getting building permits so he can start renovations. He hopes to open next spring.