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


Waiting for real set of design standards

It is not the people who are serving who need to be considered when granting a government body the authority to impose subjective standards, it is the people who might serve in the years ahead.
That is the situation with the town’s proposed amendment to the zoning code giving the Planning Commission the legal right to require new commercial buildings to meet design criteria that reflect the town’s image.
Although there is no argument that the code ought to make legal what the commission has been doing anyway, with the cooperation of businesses, it is difficult to embrace the entire program without knowing exactly what it will entail.
Mayor Gee Williams believes, for instance, that architectural standards as applied to development beyond downtown should ensure that the appearance of projects compliments the architecture of the town, but not necessarily mimics it.
That’s fine, but the code doesn’t say that, yet, which is why he and the council majority want these design standards created as soon as possible, so there’s less room for personal interpretation of whether a building does or doesn’t meet the test.
Although current commission members have worked successfully with commercial operators, there’s no guarantee that their successors will, absent a well-defined set of procedures and standards for them to follow.
That has to be done before the support of the mayor and council for this amendment goes any further, conditioned as it is on the premise that more specific regulations will be forthcoming in the near, rather than the distant, future.
Most everyone agrees that the image of the town is its primary marketing asset and that steps should be taken to protect it. Yet, it is only reasonable for the mayor and council to apply a little bit of wait-and-see to this proposition before going all in.