Ocean City Today
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Trouble brewing at Burley Oak

By Josh Davis | Sep 21, 2017
Photo by: Josh Davis / Ocean City Today The Berlin Planning Commission on Wednesday voted 4-2 to approve a modification to a site plan for a Burley Oak Brewing Company expansion. The approval did not come without some trepidation.

(Sept. 22, 2017) The Berlin Planning Commission voted 4-2 to allow a modification to a site plan for an expansion at Burley Oak Brewing Company on Wednesday night, but not without some trepidation.

No one from the brewery was at the meeting, although Planning Director Dave Engelhart said Burley Oak owner Bryan Brushmiller was asked to attend.

The commission had approved a site plan in April that allowed for, among other things, construction of a four-foot tall fence around an expanded outdoor beer garden. The fence was to be made of repurposed wooden pallets.

Engelhart, on Wednesday, said the county liquor board asked for the fence to be raised to five-feet tall. However, the modification request, which occurred after approval from the Berlin Planning Commission, was not brought back to the commission for approval.

On Aug. 24, Engelhart said he noticed “they were constructing another fence on top of the fence” at the brewery. He said the fence was six-feet tall, which is permissible under town code.

“I had to put a stop-work order on [the fence] because it wasn’t on the approved site plan,” Engelhart said. “Then, noticing that stop work order was removed, I placed another one on the 25th.”

Engelhart said the order required Brushmiller to present a revision to the site plan to the planning commission. He said he was also concerned that handicapped parking spaces, included in the site plan approved in April, had not been constructed.

Additionally, the roof over an outdoor stage and interior renovations related to a canning operation had not been done, Engelhart said. He said the building permit was still open.

“We wanted to address these changes and we have concerns about the handicapped parking,” Engelhart said. “We could be part of an ADA lawsuit if someone filed a complaint … us allowing it to continue could place the town in some liability.”

Engelhart said town staff met with Brushmiller to also discuss concerns about EDUs, or equivalent dwelling units used to measure water consumption, as well as wastewater concerns and recent noise complaints.

Commission member Pete Cosby asked for clarification as to whether two stop-work orders were removed by Brushmiller.

Engelhart said the first order was taped to the fence on Aug. 24, and the second was taped and tacked to the fence on Aug. 25. He said Brushmiller arrived at the brewery moments after he put up the second order.

“He showed up the second day … because I had called him and told him I was gonna go out there. I left him a message – I didn’t speak to him,” Engelhart said. “When we got on the premises I couldn’t find him there, so I said, ‘well, he didn’t bother to heed my message.’

“As we were taking photographs and about to pull off, he showed up,” Engelhart continued. “He wanted to know what we were doing. And I said, ‘you know what we’re doing.’”

Cosby asked if charges would be filed.

“To be determined,” Engelhart said.

“I’m disappointed he’s not here, after all the hoopla with the stop-work orders,” Cosby said. “I’m concerned with anybody who would take down a work order not once, but twice and then build this fence.”

Commission Chairman Chris Denny asked for a motion to approve the addition to the fence. Commission member Newt Chandler made the motion, but the vote deadlocked, 3-3, with Cosby, Barb Stack and Phyllis Purnell opposed.

Denny, Chandler and John Barrett supported the modification. Barrett said he believed the higher fence improved the project overall.

Cosby said he didn’t think the fence, as constructed, looked good, adding, “If the man was here to talk to us, maybe we could talk. But he’s not here.”

After some additional discussion, Purnell changed her vote to approve the addition.

Brushmiller, reached for comment Thursday morning, said he thought the meeting started an hour later and he arrived at Town Hall after it had already ended.

He called reports that he removed the orders “very accusatory.”

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