By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Nothing less than Cooperstown’s future evoked lively debate when, for a second time, the Village Board presented its proposed zoning law to the public.
At debate’s end, the document was approved, 6-1, with Trustee Jim Dean the sole nay. Voting aye were Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk, and Trustees MacGuire Benton, Jeanne Dewey, Joe Membrino and Richard Sternberg.
The focus was a provision allowing single-family homes to be converted into three-unit dwellings.
“There’s nothing built into the new law that would prevent any of the houses from being immediately converted into multi-family units,” said Linden Summers, a local attorney. “… I can predict that all of the houses on Pioneer Street could be converted. There isn’t any control over how many units there will be.”
Ted Feury, Chestnut Street, echoed those concerns. “It can immediately be done, but you don’t necessarily get what you want. It’s nice to have a broad stroke of the brush and think it’s going to work. I don’t think the zone should be broken down without special permits.”
“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” said Rick Hulse Sr., who lives on Pioneer Street. “With our population in decline, where are we headed? … This law concerns me … it seems like we’re a little desperate.”
On the other side, Fire Chief Jim Tallman said a lack of affordable housing in Cooperstown is contributing to a decline in volunteer firefighters.
“We are seeing a lot of people that can’t afford to live in Cooperstown. It’s hard to get people to come out and volunteer. If this continues, the village will have to have a paid fire department,” he said.
Bill Streck, Bassett Healthcare Network president, said, “As a citizen, I am very concerned about our capability to support our school. It’s the heart of the community,” he said. “With our population in decline, we have to take a hard look at what has happened in our community. The ability of our organization to recruit is dependent on having confidence in our schools and finding affordable housing.”
CCS board president Tim Hayes backed the initiative as well: “We are losing people and leaking paychecks.”
“I see nothing wrong with this. I was upset when we lost the ability to have more than
five units in the same building,” said Trustee Sternberg. “I’m in favor of the law.”
“We’ve already had this in most of the village and it hasn’t ruined the village,” added Dewey.
“It expands options for housing. It’s not something unique to Cooperstown,” said Benton.
Dean said, “It’s really tough. We’ve got to be very creative along the way.”