An Appeal to the
ZB of Appeals
Two weeks ago, in front of a standing-room-only crowd, the Village of Cooperstown Zoning Board of Appeals considered and ultimately denied, unanimously, the application of Adam Curley for a short-term rental permit for four of the five bedrooms in Mark and Margaret Curley’s newly-acquired house at 40 Lake Street. The Curleys, who live in Massapequa Park, New York, on the south shore of Long Island, did not attend the meeting although Mark Curley’s brother, Adam, was there.
Forty Lake Street, better known locally as the Averell House, is one of the earliest houses in the village. It is in close-to-original condition; it is situated on the edge of Otsego Lake and also bordered by Willow Brook; it commands a healthy view of Mt. Wellington, at the north end of the lake; its neighboring houses on Lake Street are like-sized, early 19th-century private residences that hold strong family and village memories along with many important, and historical, attributes; and its other neighbors, more recently built houses on Pioneer Street, have conscientiously protected Willow Brook. The house was built in 1793 by James Averell, an early leader of the village, and it remained in the possession of the Averell family until the 1970s. A perfect house for a perfect village.
Why on earth, then, should a new owner from out of town, who has not yet established occupancy, think the Averell House would be a good transient rooming house, welcoming tourists for a few days of vacationing play? How quickly this would discourage the quiet, scenic, historic enjoyment that Lake Street offers all the residents of the village, create a vehicular logjam on the skinny street, and severely challenge the zoning enforcement officer, whose enforcement of the zoning code—established, along with the Historic District, in the last century to maintain the residential quality of life and culture in the village—is already extremely difficult, if not impossible.
And why on earth, as well, would the new owners of the Averell House even think the ZBA might agree that this is a good idea, and grant a permit to turn an historic house in the Residential Riparian Protection District of Cooperstown into a transient, multi-family rooming house? It didn’t. Well done. No one at that meeting, save the brother of the owner, was supportive of the project.
Perhaps, after this, the ZBA should consider a moratorium that will give them time to clarify the STR ordinance and, at the same time, educate its members, new and old, on the ordinance’s intent and application. The ZBA should seriously consider changing the law to firmly secure the kind of village that our residents have shown time and again they overwhelmingly desire.