PUBLIC HEARING SET OCT. 5
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Cooperstown citizens may weigh in on proposed a co-branded Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins on the corner of Walnut and Chestnut streets when the Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board at a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8.
“We hope this will be attended by the people whose properties this will impact,” said board member Roger MacMillan. “And our board decision will be made based on the principles of compatibility.”
Steven Wilson, an engineer with Bohler Engineering, unveiled the plans at HPARB’s Tuesday, Sept. 10 meeting. “This is not a typical Dunkin’,” he said. “We designed it to be respectful of the residents we’re next to in scale and look, with muted tones, a gabled roof, columns and architectural shingles.”
“The brand wall doesn’t reflect the character of the residential district,” said chairman Liz Callahan. “It’s a pretty glaring detraction when what you’re trying to do is blend in. If you’re trying to be subtle, you’re not achieving it.”
She also pointed out the brick wrapping along the bottom half of the building. “It’s higher than the foundation would be on houses in the neighborhood,” she said. “Most of the houses here were built before 1925, but this suburbanizes it.”
“You have a lot of different colors going on,” said Mark Mershon, board member.
“I get that it’s the brand, but it’s a lot of color,” added Callahan.
Zoning law dictates that new construction in the historic district “must be compatible with the neighborhood in which it is located.”
In August, Dunkin’ Brands of Canton, Mass., filed an application with the village to begin the planning process.
The proposed project includes “a drive-thru with new driveways, site lighting, signage, landscaping, utilities and storm-water management facilities.”
Because the area is zoned commercial and the project is under 4,000 square feet, Dunkin’ Brands does not need to get a site exemption from the village, but the plans need to be approved by HPARB and the Planning Board.
Gene Berman, Planning Board chairman, said the village has requested a traffic study. “The major concern is students coming out of school and walking over there,” he said. “It’s a dangerous corner, and students don’t always use sidewalks.”
According to Zoning Enforcement Officer Jane Gentile, the property is still owned by Northern Otsego Management Co., which lists an address as 192 Main Street, the Schlather & Birch law firm, and has not yet been sold to Dunkin’ Brands.
Ahead of the next HPARB meeting, the board asked that Bohler take their revisions into consideration and prepare a 3D rendering of how the building would look in the neighborhood.
“We can’t call this application complete until we see more revisions,” said Callahan.