By Nancy Kelly
2012 was a busy year development-wise in Berwick, something town officials would like to see continued in 2013 and beyond.
At the Feb. 5 planning advisory committing meeting, planner Chris Millier reported 2012 “saw a nice uptake” in permits for commercial development in town.
“There was a lot of activity downtown,” said Millier.
A status report delivered at the meeting indicated that in 2012, there were permits issued for two new commercial construction projects and nine commercial renovations. In the year previous, a total of two permits were issued for both types of work in the commercial zone.
Last year’s work in the downtown core included construction of a new drugstore, property upgrades to a former town-owned property and a heritage home-turned dental office and relocation of a restaurant to the former fire hall property.
To encourage future development, PAC members agreed to host a developer’s forum in the spring.
“We have done this before,” reported CAO Don Reagan. “The benefit is we hear directly from developers.”
The developers, he said, will be able to talk about their potential projects and how the town can facilitate them through regular zoning or development agreement, he added.
Millier agreed, adding the session has the potential to encourage economic development by providing information about Berwick’s planning regulations and educating first-time developers.
“We need to remember that not all developers are experienced or it’s not their primary activity. These people are often looking for resources and this allows us to provide them.”
Berwick recently adopted a new municipal planning strategy and land use bylaw that includes the gateway mixed-use zone for residential and small-scale commercial, recreation and community uses in the town’s northern sector and a new enterprise zone established to offer more flexibility and opportunities for broader economic development.
Plans are for the forum to coincide with the start of construction season.