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


Park lot’s value shifts with council opinions

Whatever is going on with the Berlin Town Council’s decision-making progress vis-à-vis Heron Park and the council’s possible desire to do something with the property, Palmer and Sandy Gillis aren’t happy with it.

Nor should they be after Monday evening’s debacle when the deal they believed was hammered out a week earlier on parcel 57 turned out to be no deal at all.

The collapse came about when Councilman Jay Knerr stipulated that the 30-plus units of water/wastewater capacity the Gillises understood were part of the total purchase should be reduced to just five, thus obligating them to buy those additional EDUs back from the town.

There would be no point, after all, in acquiring a parcel that didn’t come with enough water/wastewater capacity (EDUs or equivalent dwelling units) to handle the number of users needed to make the venture profitable.

But now that this deal has gone south, the public can only speculate about what the council’s next step might be, beyond demolishing some of the poultry plant building and continuing to make payments on the $2.3 million the town owes on the $3 million it borrowed in 2016 to buy the 68-acre tract.

It’s difficult to imagine what sort of backup plan might exist since the value of the property can’t be established until the council locks in how many EDUs go with it.

Even then, a property’s appraised value doesn’t mean anything if no one is willing to pay that much for it. That begs the question: will anyone else be willing to buy the land when its development potential is limited by virtue of this EDU restriction?

Further, given the council’s fickle nature on what it wants to see developed, any potential buyer would hesitate to go all in on any package with parameters that could change on a whim.