AT COOPERSTOWN VILLAGE BOARD
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Be careful what you wish for.
Ed Landers, owner of 171 Main St., wanted a special-use permit put an apartment in the former Nail Club at 171 Main St. when the Village Board met Monday, Feb. 24.
“They are long-term, 30 days or more,” he said. “I ask my tenants to leave the property during Hall of Fame Induction weekend, and then they come back.”
The proposal drew considerable discussion from the board and was the subject of a public hearing.
“The first floor should stay a storefront,” said Marc Kingsley, Inn at Cooperstown owner. “I know we need more affordable housing, but we also need a variety of additional businesses.”
“If this is approved, three people will come in tomorrow and do the same,” said Trustee James Dean. “The village is toast. This is a tourist town, no one comes here to see a pretty door. This is about self-preservation.”
But Mayor Ellen Tillapaug Kuch pointed out that the village had a history of businesses turning into homes and vice-versa. “There’s an ebb and flow,” she said. “Where Veronica Gil Seaver lives, that used to be a barber shop. Stagecoach used to have two apartments, and now that’s a business.”
Trustee Cindy Falk said the new comprehensive plan showed a need for both housing and businesses, making the decision difficult. “This takes a business opportunity off the shelf,” she said. “For the amount of money we spent getting people across that intersection, we don’t want to take a business out of there.
She also suggested a time limit on the permit. “The special-use permit will run with the property,” she said. “I suggest we put a limit in place so that the board can revisit it and it can revert back to commercial space.”
Trustee Richard Sternberg asked for a five-year time limit in proposing the vote, it did not get a second until he reduced it to three.
Dean and Joseph Membrino voted no; Jeanne Dewey, MacGuire Benton, Sternberg and Falk all voted in favor of the permit, with the condition that it would expire in three years, and that the apartments would not be used for short-term rentals – including Hall of Fame weekend.
“I’ve got people already booked for Hall of Fame weekend,” Landers said. “I’ve done this for 12 years. This loss would be incredible.”
“This is now the state of the law,” said Membrino. “If you don’t convert the property, you are not prevented from those Induction the trustees to forget it, and a vote was then taken to withdraw the special permit.
“I’ll drop this,” he said. “It’s a lot cleaner.”