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


Dollar General heading back to circuit court

(June 4, 2015) The town of Berlin and Oxford Chase are heading back to circuit court, as the developer continues its struggle to build a Dollar General store near the intersection of Old Ocean City Boulevard and Healthway Drive.
Oxford Chase first requested a building permit from the town on Dec. 12 of last year. Then, in March the planning commission voted unanimously to recommend Planning Director Dave Engelhart veto the site plan, siting traffic issues.
Engelhard agreed with the commission, citing town code referencing highway corridor guidelines, on March 25.
Then, in order to get to the Berlin board of appeals, the developer took the matter to Circuit Court who, on April 23, sided with Oxford Chase. The Berlin board of appeals, however, agreed with the planning commission and Engelhart in a 3-1 decision in mid-May.
Having exhausted all of its administrative options, the developer was free to take the matter to circuit court, a decision Oxford Chase Vice President John Camp said he made late last week.
“I don’t do this very often so I can’t tell you this is part of my playbook,” Camp said on Monday. “It’s not something we want to do, but we feel that we’ve been wronged, so it’s something we have to do. The town has made their decision and they’ve been wrong, now the town is going to start spending money, like us, going to circuit court because they need to defend their actions.”
As of Monday Engelhart said he had not been informed of the developer’s decision to return to court and declined to comment on the matter.
Camp said the company had a “significant amount of money” tied up in the deal, which included a purchase of the property contingent on approval of the site plan.
“All we want to do is build something that we have a right to build,” Camp said. “If you read the zoning code, zoning allows our use for this property. So, when we’re denied the use because of the traffic it will generate it doesn’t meet the town’s criteria.”
He also said the town had more or less “condemned” the property by denying the site plan.
“The only other use that I could put on this property would be probably a storage facility that would generate less use, so they’ve effectively condemned the property without paying the owner the just compensation for it,” Camp said. “If they want to condemn the property, that’s fine, condemn the property, but don’t do what they did. They want us to go to circuit court, so we’ll spend our day in court.”
Despite the already lengthy battle between the town and the developer, the matter could conceivably drag out even longer, going as far as the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, according to Camp.
“It’s not something I want to do, like to do, have done a lot,” he said. “We think we have a case, we think we’re right and the town is wrong, and we will win. We’ll win this case.”
At press time no court date was set.