Berlin Annexation Petition Against New 7-Eleven Fails - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Berlin Annexation Petition Against New 7-Eleven Fails

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

BERLIN, Md.- A petition for a special election in Berlin regarding the annexation of six acres near the intersection of Route 50 and Route 818 has failed.

The town of Berlin says for the petition to succeed, it would have required 681 signatures representing 20 percent of the 3,407 registered voters.

“The failure of the annexation petition to reach the required minimum as prescribed by state law means the approval of this property into the town of Berlin by the Planning Commission in March and the Mayor and Council in June, will proceed as planned,” said Mayor Gee Williams.

The approvals, both in public sessions, were for the annexation of the property owned by Athena Properties, Inc., which will enable the developer to move forward in building a new concept 7-Eleven gas station and convenience store.

The town says all properties included in the annexation are already zoned for commercial use by both Worcester County and the Town.

The petition was submitted to Berlin Town Hall last Friday, July 12, with 710 signatures and addresses of citizens from the Berlin area. Verification of the petitioners against the current list of registered town voters showed that 72 of the signatures were not valid, including a number of duplicate signatures bringing the total of verified petitioners to 638, a total of 43 less than the valid signatures needed to require a special election.

The mayor said from conversations he and other council members have had with Berlin citizens in recent weeks there has apparently been a lot of misinformation about the conditions and impact of the annexation.

“I am relieved that this annexation is going forward within the town boundaries of Berlin.  Several petitioners were told their town taxes would go up if this annexation was allowed to proceed,” Williams said. “This is simply not true.”

Williams said that because all the properties are already zoned commercial and within the town and county’s growth area, the developer could have gone ahead with the 7-Eleven without the annexation. And the town would have been required to serve the site with sewer and water as both town utility lines already run immediately next to the annexed site. Those utility lines serve SonRise Church immediately north of US 50, which is in the corporate boundaries of the Town.

All infrastructure for utilities on the property and the connection to the existing sewer and water lines will be paid by the developer, not the town which has been a longstanding policy in Berlin for many years.

“The mayor continued, “Ironically, if opponents to this annexation had succeeded in a special election the project would still have been built, but the Town would have not been allowed to collect any property taxes from it.”

“Annexations such as this enable the Town of Berlin to expand our property tax base. Our town is still required to provide all public safety services to such properties whether they are with the town boundary or not, which represents almost 40 percent of our annual general fund budget," Williams said. "Cost will continue to go up regardless because of inflation. Everyone is better off if there is a larger number of property owners to share this inevitability."

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