April 3, 2005
BERLIN -- Should the desire to leave here ever arrive, it is a task easily accomplished given the easy access to Interstates 290 and 495.
But David R. Marble, a native of this hilly town, wonders why one would ever think of departing.
''We still have working farms, cattle farms, dairy farms, and we have apple" orchards, said Marble, chairman of the board of selectmen. ''You can buy fresh milk, fresh eggs, cabbage, lettuce, corn -- whatever you want. You don't even have to leave town to shop for produce in the summertime."
Currently, one does have to leave this Worcester County town to shop at a mall or a major supermarket. But that may soon change as residents are being asked to revise zoning rules to permit two separate projects that combined could bring 800,000 square feet of commercial and residential development.
Marble said there is disagreement over the projects. Some residents are opposed to mall development and others contend the town must expand the commercial tax base beyond the portion of the Solomon Pond Mall that lies within Berlin. A vote is set for April 9.
Whatever the outcome, Marble said this town will retain its country atmosphere due in part to its two-acre residential zoning rules. Homeowners must also build their own wells and septic systems, he said. Town Meeting makes budget decisions, he said.
''It's Old New England, which is why people are moving here," said Marble, adding that new residents are being drawn from the high-tech companies in the region.
''We have the best of country living and we're still close to 495 and 290."
On a recent week, Realtor.com listed 16 single-family homes, ranging from $319,900 for a three-bedroom, one-bath, 836-square-foot home to $929,900 for a four-bedroom, 4½-bath, 4,234-square-foot home.
A historic footnote: It's pronounced BURR-lin, not Burr-LIN. Marble said the pronunciation was altered during World War II.