Work begins on Chestnut Crossing as project clears village boards

Work begins on Chestnut Crossing
as project clears village boards

By GREG KLEIN • Special to

Two months after getting its special-use permit from the Cooperstown Board of Trustees, the Chestnut Crossing apartment complex at 10 Chestnut St. is mostly finished at the municipal level.

According to village documents, the project has had public hearings and gotten approvals from the village committees that must approve various parts of the project, including its architecture, fencing, parking, sidewalks, streets, lighting and drainage.

At the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Tuesday, Aug. 3, a public hearing considered three variances the project architects requested: an 11-inch variance from the 30-foot height limit; an area variance to allow trash and recycling in a side-yard setback; and a variance to waive a rule requiring a setback for parking spaces from roads or streets. There is a public access road that runs between Chestnut Street and Pine Boulevard that is to the south of the project, which is where the setback was requested.

The ZBA granted all three variances.

The Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board met Tuesday, Aug. 10, to complete the review of the building’s exterior design. The committee approved the project at that meeting.

Finally, at the Planning Board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17, another public hearing was held and the board considered the remaining safety and design aspects of the project. The committee approved most of the details, but sent one question back to the village trustees concerning a tree that needs to be cut down. A review of documents seemed to indicate the tree was actually on village property and therefore needed village action.

At both public hearings in August, there continued to be major opposition to the project, in particular from its neighbors on Chestnut and Pine. However, the village boards only consider details of the project and the power to green-light the project came from trustees, who voted unanimously Monday, July 12, to grant the special-use permit needed for the 13-unit building.

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said she thought it was clear to the trustees once they applied the state’s criteria for issuing special-use permits that the project served village needs.

“We went by the book and deemed it a special use,” she said.” Essentially, it was clear the project had to move forward when the village board went through those 16 criteria.”

Tillapaugh said the village will have experts look at the boundary lines to determine how to finish the drainage and tree questions, but she expected construction would begin soon. A new fence went up around the project last week and project developers Josh Edmonds and Francesca Zambello have said it will be completed in about a year.

Edmonds said he is excited to begin construction and he and Zambello hope to convince skeptics the project will benefit the village without affecting the quality of life for the complex’s neighbors.

“We are doing our best to work with the neighbors,” he said. “I know a couple of folks disagree with the project, but I would not say that they are a majority.

“I hope when the project is complete they will see that it does not affect the neighborhood and they will see it as a positive thing for the village.”

Edmonds, a Cooperstown Central School graduate who runs Simple Integrity, a construction firm, and Zambello, the executive and artistic director at The Glimmerglass Festival in Springfield, said they teamed up on the project to meet a demand in the village for more professional housing.

Chestnut Crossing will have eight two-bedroom apartments, four studio apartments and one one-bedroom apartment. All residents must sign leases of one year or longer and there are no subletting or short-term rentals allowed on the property, according to the special-use permit the village granted the developers.

As part of their outreach, Zambello and Edmonds held several meetings with village residents and spoke at several village meetings in the leadup to the vote on the permit. Several times they were asked if they were interested in taking on other local projects, such as a renovation of the Key Bank Building on Main Street.

Edmonds said he is flattered that some residents have responded positively to his work and his
and Zambello’s plans. However, they are not ready to take on new projects, yet.

“Francesca and I are enjoying working together,” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds, but right now we have our hands full.”

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