BERLIN – A Berlin resident has launched a petition drive in an effort to make the town’s latest annexation a referendum question.
Berlin resident Jeff Smith is asking town voters to sign a petition that would force the town to hold a referendum for the annexation approved by elected officials May 28. The property the town council voted to annex, six acres near the intersection of Route 50 and Route 818, is expected to become the site of a 7-Eleven gas station and convenience store.
“What I want is to give people the opportunity to have a conversation on whether or not this is something the town really wants,” Smith said.
Smith, who’s lived in town for nearly six years, initially asked officials to postpone their decision regarding the proposed annexation. When that did not happen, he said he explored other options and learned residents were able to petition for a referendum. According to the Maryland Municipal League’s Municipal Annexation Handbook, an annexation resolution becomes effective 45 days after its passage unless it is petitioned to referendum. If Smith is able to get 20% of the town’s registered voters — roughly 700 people — to sign his petition for referendum, the town will be required to hold a referendum asking voters for a yes or no vote on the issue.
“The town has designed itself now so that in order to break even we have to keep growing,” he said. “If we continue on this path, growing recklessly and without a vision, we’re going to turn into Salisbury.”