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


Text amendment passage paves way for Oceans East

(Nov. 12, 2015) Following a pingpong battle that first sent the matter back to the Berlin Planning Commission, the Town Council voted 3-1 Monday to approve an amendment to the town zoning code allowing for up to 36”units in multi-family dwellings in new constructions.
Rinnier Development Company and its new Oceans East project on Seahawk Road necessitated the amendment, as its project was greater in scope than what the town’s zoning code allowed.
According to Blair Rinnier, he and attorney Marc Cropper attended Berlin’s strategic planning sessions earlier this year and heard calls for more accessible housing for seniors.
Rinnier said the economics of adding an elevator to one of the buildings in the new complex, providing accessibility specifically to seniors, required at least 36 units. He sought and won approval from the planning commission to add an exception to the 12-unit limit the zoning code imposed.
When Cropper brought the amendment to Town Council in September, however, objections were raised to the language that allowed for “any number” of units at the discretion of the Planning Commission.
He withdrew the proposal, then went back to the commission and again won approval, this time with a ceiling of 36 units. The council voted in line with the commission on Monday, with only Lisa Hall in opposition.
Hall saidt the approval of 36 units for Oceans East was good only through the first phase of development, and that Rinnier would have to seek approval for future development plans.
Cropper said the new legislation preserved the integrity of the former 12-unit cap, giving the planning commission the ability to grant exceptions only when certain conditions are met.
According to the new language, those conditions are when “the planning commission finds that an improved development plan can be achieved and that public necessity, convenience, general welfare and good zoning practice will be better served.”
“It doesn’t in any way guarantee [exceptions],” Cropper said. “Only on the circumstances of the criteria of this text amendment does the planning commission have the authority to go beyond that.”