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Berlin Town Council briefs

The Berlin Town Council discussed the following at its meeting on Monday:

Housing surveys

The Eastern Shore Regional GIS (Geographic Information System) Cooperative will be conducting surveys from June 1 until July 15 that will analyze the physical state of various properties in Berlin, which in turn could be used to apply for funding assistance.

“This data collection effort aims to identify contributing factors leading to property degradation,” stated a memo from the cooperative. “Student interns will be walking around town with tablets using a customized digital survey application to collect data on property structure conditions. They will be measuring a variety of risk variables leading to property degradation, including infrastructure damage, property accessibility for emergency services, and various site attributes and conditions such as estimated foundation heights.”

The initiative was first applied to the Town of Cambridge in Dorchester County in 2016. Since then, the town has been awarded $1.7 million for housing improvements, thanks in large part to the data collected, according to the memo.

The Tri-County Council, the Rural Maryland Council and the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund will provide funding for the Berlin survey.

Pollinator Week

Mayor Zack Tyndall officially proclaimed the week of June 20-26 as National Pollinator Week, as an official affiliate of Bee City, USA. The week is intended to celebrate and bring awareness to the insects that contribute greatly to local food sources and healthy, vibrant environments, especially in the vicinity of Berlin.

Façade funding

The Town Council voted 5-0 to approve Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells’ request to apply for additional funding for façade improvements that will benefit new businesses in downtown Berlin.

Wells said that grant money from two years ago is “close to being depleted” and that the move would come at “zero cost” to the town.

“The process is we apply to Department of Housing and Community Development, they give us the grant, then we facilitate the grant process — they apply to the town, we send their application to DHCD, who reviews it with Maryland Historic Trust, they get it back to us, we OK the grant, there’s a variety of paperwork, we issue the reimbursement and I put the paperwork in to get the reimbursement from DHCD,” Wells told the council.

Heron Park 

The Town Council voted 5-0 to approve an extended negotiation period with Gillis Gilkerson over the purchase of the parcels of land that comprise Heron Park on Old Ocean City Boulevard.

“Based on our last meeting we had when we heard from each group, there was one particular entity (Gillis Gilkerson) that was more Berlin than the other and the better fit for the surrounding community,” Tyndall said at the meeting. “What I’m asking is that … we would enter into an extended negotiation period with Gillis Gilkerson as it relates to those parcels. It’s not selling them, but it allows us to meet with them more and whittle down to the finer points of an agreement that would have to be approved publicly.”

Lot area

The Town Council voted 5-0 to approve a zoning code amendment that expands the maximum sizes for fee simple townhomes in the R-4 residential district, following a public hearing. The ordinance was first read during the May 9th town council meeting.

Among other changes, the ordinance chiefly features amendments to allow additional requirements that may be permanent, including minimum lot area square footage for all dwellings and public utilities set at 5,000 square feet and minimum lot widths at 50 feet.

The amendment allows developers to build larger lots for each townhome, if they so choose, while not increasing the number of townhomes in a development.

This story appears in the print version of Bayside Gazette on May 26, 2022.