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


Council members weigh in on Bay Club annexation

(June 11, 2015) A week after word leaked that an annexation proposal involving the Bay Club was pitched to the Berlin mayor and council during a closed session, several members of the council are coming out with varying stances.
The proposal involves turning all or a portion of the golf course into a development of 300 luxury homes. According to Berlin Mayor Gee Williams, Hugh Cropper, an attorney representing the Carl M. Freeman Companies, floated the idea and made the presentation to town officials.
Last week, the Gazette reported on comments from Councilmember Thom Gulyas, who opposed the idea because of what he saw as a lack of information. Gulyas also objected to the potential burden on the town’s infrastructure, as well as the fact that the property is nearly two miles outside of current town limits.
Councilmember Lisa Hall echoed Gulyas’ statements this week and said the public had already expressed its opinion when it rejected the matter during the strategic planning sessions held earlier this year.
“The county had this property in their comprehensive plan,” Hall said. “At one of the comp meetings, this property was discussed in great detail: how far do we want Berlin to go up Liberty Town Road, and it was discussed about the Bay Club and what if they stopped wanting to be a big golf course? What if they want to build houses out there? Do we want to annex that? And we decided, no, we wanted to greenbelt (leave it undeveloped).
Hall said Seahawk Road, recently annexed for a new townhome complex, and was also in the greenbelt.
“All this property [the mayor] is trying to shove in Berlin is in the county comp plan, not Berlin,” Hall said. “When I moved into Berlin 22 years ago, I think there was 2,400-2,600 people here. Now, 20 years later … we’ve doubled our size in 10 years and we have a lot of growing pains and we’ve made a lot of errors.
“We’ve got [developer] Rinnier doing the apartments on Seahawk Road, we have the Cannery Village going on, we have the stormwater utility trying to fix all the stormwater issues, we’ve got the Tyson plant acquisition and what we’re going to do with that, and [the mayor] keeps talking about building a new $2.5 million police station … there’s a lot going on,” Hall said.
Councilmember Troy Purnell, on the other hand, said it was too early to make a firm decision on the proposal.
“I want to hear all the arguments for and against,” he said. “This is just basically a ‘Hey, what do you think?’ I don’t think anybody is pushing for it or against it. And I think the mayor really wants to hear from the townspeople before he really weighs on either.
“There’s not any type of, ‘Okay, we’ve already made a decision on this,’” Purnell said. “It all depends on what they are bringing to the table. If they’re bringing tax dollars and no maintenance [on behalf of the town], well, that would be a good thing. It’s the very early stages and I think we all need to find out some details on it and realistically find out what the taxpayers think.”