COOPERSTOWN — More than 50 people packed the Cooperstown Central School cafeteria for a public hearing on the proposed Chestnut Crossing apartment complex at 10 Chestnut St.
The Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees moved the meeting to the middle/high school because of the public hearing, the first official chance for residents to speak for or against the 13-unit apartment complex proposed by Josh Edmonds and Francesca Zambello for two pieces of land they own on Chestnut Street and a third on Pine Boulevard.
The overflow crowd did not disappoint, with about 30 people speaking on the issue and two more speaking about a proposed licensing law for village-owned Cooperstown icons. Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh lifted the typical one-hour limit length for public hearings, gave each speaker five minutes to speak on each issue, and even allowed a handful of people to speak a second time or ask limited questions.
The public hearing portion of the meeting took more than two hours and the meeting itself wrapped up after 11 p.m, but Tillapaugh said she expected as much.
One would like to believe that Cooperstown, once referred to as “America’s Favorite Hometown,” is a thriving, dynamic community.
A walk down Main Street in July or August, with crowds of people swarming the streets and shops, would suggest that it is indeed as billed. The same walk in January or February, with darkened, shuttered store fronts and empty parking spaces, would offer a very different impression.
When the remarkable increase in the country’s taste for baseball and its memorabilia in the late ’80s and ’90s dramatically altered Cooperstown’s Main Street, with baseball-themed shops largely established and managed by non-local proprietors replacing the mixed-use, community-based businesses run by local residents for 200 years, Cooperstown’s business district turned a very unfortunate corner.
With the advent of the “Cooperstown” baseball camps, located in Hartwick and Oneonta, people began to buy, convert and even build area housing to cash in on an extremely lucrative weekly summer rental market. That housing is in many cases owned by non-local, absentee landlords who make enough of a killing in the summer to allow them to sit vacant for the long off-season months. In a few years, the availability of housing in and around the Village became as hopeless as a Main Street parking space in summer.
To ALL Cooperstown Villages Residents regarding the 10 Chestnut Street project:
Zoning laws are to protect one’s investment and quality of life in a community. When zoning laws are allowed to be exceeded with “special permits,” it weakens the law.
The 10 Chestnut Street project is zoned residential and historical.
Does this project qualify for the quaint small town atmosphere that residents and visitors from around the world expect? The project exceeds the zoning laws in several categories.
It is a nice façade to a behemoth building in that space? Consider: 13 apartments with 21 rooms on 0.33 acre and 0.14 acre, 21 parking spaces, with no visitor parking and no place for children to play.
Have those that have written or are voicing their support of the project considered the quality of life and investments of others?
This is a slippery slope. Where will the next project be? In what neighborhood?
Let us make it clear. We are not opposed to development of this property within the zoning laws which were rewritten just two years ago!
We would enthusiastically welcome this!
We are for zoning laws that protect our quality of life and investment AND YOURS!
COOPERSTOWN – A proposed revision to the Zoning Law that will allow two-family and apartment houses throughout the Village of Cooperstown will be presented to trustees for the first time tonight.
Also under discussion at the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m at Village Hall, 22 Main St., will be a parking plan for New York Pizzeria at Elm and Main, and Josh Edmonds’ 12-apartment house, The Grove, proposed for 10 Chestnut St.