BERLIN — Bed and Breakfasts in Berlin might become a lot more than a place to sleep and grab an omelet if a proposal that received a favorable recommendation from the Planning Commission this week eventually becomes law.
Representing the new Waystead Inn, located on Harrison Avenue, attorney Mark Cropper put forth an application to expand the activities that would be acceptable. As the code currently stands, the only allowed uses for a Bed and Breakfast are for sleeping and serving a morning meal.
According to Cropper, existing Bed and Breakfast regulations in Berlin are “very limited and very restricted in what you can and cannot do.”
Under Cropper’s proposal, Bed and Breakfasts with more than an acre of land would be able to request permission from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to host events like weddings, birthday parties, wine tastings, and other activities not normally permitted.
“It would be judged on a case-by-case basis,” said Cropper. “We just want to give them that flexibility is all.”
Planning Commission Chair Newt Chandler seemed surprised by the stringency of the current regulations.
“All Bed and Breakfasts can do right now is have them spend the night and then feed them breakfast?” he asked Cropper.
Cropper confirmed that was the case and reiterated that “as it is right now, we can’t even make [an activities] request to the BZA.”
Commissioner Ron Cascio expressed concerns over the one-acre minimum lot size in the application.
“I think that there could be viable properties under an acre,” he said.
Cropper explained that he had no objection if the commission wished to lower the limit.
“I like the size limit myself,” said Chandler.
Chandler pointed out that a lot of the activities that this would open up would probably not be a good fit for smaller Bed and Breakfasts without enough land to sufficiently separate them from their neighbors.
Planning and Zoning Director Chuck Ward pointed out that, if the commission gives a favorable rating to Cropper’s application, it still has to go through the Mayor and Council. And even after that, approval for special events will have to be granted by the BZA.
“For the application, it’s basically a three-step process anyway,” he said.
The commission voted unanimously to give the proposal a favorable recommendation.