COOPERSTOWN — The village of Cooperstown will continue to listen to residents and other local residents about the re-classification of several properties on Linden Avenue and Walnut Street, despite holding a public hearing with no public Monday, March 23.
The village's Board of Trustees held its March meeting Monday in the Ballroom at 22 Main St., a change enacted to allow for social distancing. However, the coronavirus crisis led to a short meeting and no public comment at the public hearing, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said.
"Even Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo said it is important for municipalities to carry on with vital functions, and one of them is to pay the bills," Tillapaugh said during a phone interview Tuesday, March 24. "I'd say (the meeting) was about 20 minutes and we whipped right through it."
However, the board did officially open and close the public hearing, which was a follow-up on a six-month moratorium on building commercial properties at 53 Walnut St. — a proposed Dunkin'/Baskin Robbins on that property caused a large public outcry in October — as well as several properties on Linden Avenue, which were partially zoned for commercial use and partially zoned as residential.
In December, the trustees passed a six-month moratorium on commercial properties at those locations, with the intent of rezoning them before the moratorium expires in May. Tillapaugh said the trustees still favor rezoning the properties, but to be fair, they will allow public comment via letters, email and other messages until the board's April meeting, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 27.
Because the public was overwhelmingly opposed to the store being built at the Walnut Street location, which is a few lots away from Cooperstown's elementary school and less than a half mile from the middle/high school, Tillapaugh said she does not expect much objection to the rezoning. But it is important for the trustees to finish the process before the moratorium expires, she said, or more public hearings will be required to start the process again.
"With everything going on right now, this feels like so much of a lesser thing that it was before," she said, "but there were more than 100 people in a room complaining about (the store) being built on a commercial property so close to the school, so I think we should act before the moratorium expires."
Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7217.