With Revisions, Company
Must Return To Trustees
By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – By a 6-1 vote, the Village Board a few minute ago approved a special permit for CVS’ drive-thru pharmacy, but with at least a dozen conditions, ranging from a detailed traffic study, to interior and exterior lighting safeguards, to ensuring safe access to Badger Park.
“I believe we kind of covered everything everyone addressed,” Mayor Jeff Katz said after the vote, addressing two dozen members of the public who attended the public hearing on the project.
The conditions – the motion, running a page and a half single space, had been prepared in advance of the hearing and public input – will require CVS to appear again before the Village Board to show they have been met, and another vote by the trustees at that time.
Asked what this means for the project, Todd Hamula of the Zaremba Group, CVS’ Ohio construction firm, said “the conditions are going to have to be met.” Groundbreaking won’t happen until next spring, at the earliest, he said.
The sole nay on the pharmacy was Trustee Jim Dean, who bluntly declared, “I vote no.” During trustee discussion, he expressed fears the project, by definition, will worsen the traffic picture around the Cooperstown Motel site at Chestnut and Beaver. If his fears are realized, “we can’t undo it,” Dean said.
A sampling of public inputs included:
- John Saphier, whose 89 Beaver St. home would be right behind the 9,000-square-foot pharmacy, pointed out that years ago, a previous village administration rejected a much smaller bank drive-thru on the site of the First Choice Cleaners, across Beaver from the motel. “I know the traffic hasn’t gone down since then,” he said.
- Jim Donley, 93 Chestnut, said the traffic “is horrible now. You could put a park on the site of the motel and it still would be a horrible intersection.” He suggested putting in traffic signals at Beaver and Chestnut, and at a combined entrance to Price Chopper and the CVS, if built. “It’s in need of major help,” he said of the traffic situation.
- Both former Planning Board chair Charlie Hill and his successor, the current chair Gene Berman, were present. Hill advised the trustees to make sure a detailed traffic study is completed. Berman advised them to have the applicant pay for it.
- Don Naughton, 86 Grove St., spoke in favor of the project, noting “I can walk there now, rather than drive down to Market Street.” He said worries about the drive-thru are overdrawn, reporting he passes a similar one in Oneonta weekly and “have yet to see one car in that company’s drive-thru.”
- But architect Ralph Snell, 23 Delaware St., concluded otherwise. “We can to better,” he said.
At the end of public comments and the trustees’ discussion, Mayor Katz, while expressing satisfaction that public concerns were reflected in the conditions, put the CVS application in a positive context: “People are seeing that being in the village is a positive thing.”
“The village’s reputation was incredibly bad toward business – ‘Don’t even bother to talk to them,’” he continued. “The track record of the village is denying and denying to a point that has hurt us.”
In addition to this project, a 22-room hotel on Railroad Avenue was recently approved.
If it meets the conditions and receives a special permit, the CVS project must still be approved by the Planning Board and the H-PARB, the Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board.