The village of Cooperstown's Board of Trustees passed two laws regarding zoning after lengthy public hearings at the board's monthly meeting Monday, Nov. 25, in the village board room at 22 Main St. in Cooperstown.
The board unanimously passed a six-month moratorium on commercial business at 53 Walnut St. The vacant lot used to be a storage facility for railroad lines, and has historically had other business purposes.
However, it is the only property on Walnut Street zoned commercial and close to both Cooperstown schools. A proposed Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins at that location had raised the community's ire this year, especially at a Tuesday, Oct. 8, public hearing held by the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board, when about 50 people spoke against the store proposal.
The moratorium was proposed as a way to slow down or stop the store, which otherwise only had to satisfy HPARB and Planning Board requirements to gain approval. Dunkin' and their local representatives ended up pulling their application before the November hearing took place, but the board voted for the moratorium anyway, Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh said, to study the neighborhood and make sure the lot and several others are zoned appropriately.
"A few people spoke and expressed their appreciation that we revisited that area," Tillapaugh told The Daily Star on Monday, Dec. 2.
The other law drew most of the comments from the public hearings, which lasted almost a full hour, according to Tillapaugh and had about 30 people in attendance. The law concerned zoning village wide, as the trustees approved an update to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan to reflect the need for greater housing in Cooperstown and make other minor changes to the language of the plan. The measure passed, 6-1, with Jim Dean voting against it.
Many of the speakers were still concerned about "dormitory style housing," especially for Bassett students and seasonal workers, overwhelming the village, Tillapaugh said. The update was amended to exclude dorms from residential areas, and to require special-use permits for them to be built in commercial areas. In the law, dorms are defined as more than six unrelated people living in one structure.
"I would say about 90 percent of the people were still talking about that," Tillapaugh said.
The law had been worked on in committee for more than a year, and gone through a previous public hearing in October, where the dorms became a big issue. The trustees responded by tabling a vote and rewriting the restrictions.