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February 28, 2013

Village approve parking, snow removal changes

By Greg Klein
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees unanimously approved two changes to the village charter at its February meeting on Monday.

Local Law No. 3 will amend the charter to allow paid parking on Pioneer Street from the northern boundary of the business district to Stagecoach Lane. The northern boundary of the business district is considered to extend to just past Tillapaugh Funeral Service at 28 Pioneer St. The previous plan for paid parking had it ending at Stagecoach Lane.

Local Law No. 4 amends street and sidewalk regulations to raise the fine for not removing snow and ice from sidewalks. Residents have 24 hours after a storm to remove snow and ice from sidewalks. In addition, businesses must keep sidewalks free of snow and ice from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The new law raises the fine to “not more than $250” as the previous fine of up to $100 was deemed too low. At the board’s January meeting, several members expressed concern that the fine was so low that some residents were viewing it as a good price for snow removal services and therefore abusing village resources. The actual amount of the fines is decided by the municipal court.

The amendment also lowers the amount of snowfall needed to ban public parking on all village streets from 6 inches to 2.5 inches.

Both new laws had public hearings on Monday, however, no residents commented on them.

The board also set four public hearings for its meeting on March 25:

• To amend the village charter to allow the zoning board to require neighbor notification for all structural changes to a house or property.

• To consider six zoning law changes recommended by the Economic Sustainability Committee.

•  To consider changing or rescinding the recently placed two-hour parking limit on the north side of South Street.

•  To adopt a law, similar to the one adopted last year, to allow the village to exceed the state’s two percent tax cap if necessary.

“That doesn’t mean we are going to raise taxes,” Mayor Jeff Katz said. “It just protects us in case we goof on the budget.”

In other actions, the board voted unanimously to allow the fire department to put up pinwheels in April for Child Abuse Prevention Month and to celebrate Red Cross Month in March with a flag raising to be held with members of the Mohawk Valley American Red Cross. The date for the flag raising will be announced later.

Trustee Cynthia Falk, chairwoman of the Streets and Buildings Committee, told the board that  four bids for paid parking machines were received and meetings have been set up in the next two weeks with the two vendors who submitted the lowest bids.

Hectronic and Access Technology Integration Inc. each submitted bids for seven and 13 multi-space parking pay stations. Each vendor will meet with a quorum of board members to demonstrate their machines. Hectronic will have its meeting at 12:15 p.m. today, and ATI will have its meeting on March 6 at a time to be determined.

It is possible that the board will call a special meeting on March 6 to select a bid winner in time to have the system in place for the tourist season, according to village clerk Teri Barown.

Bids were taken for machines that take coins and credit cards and machines that take coins, credit cards and bills. However Falk said that while doing research, her committee learned that the machines that take bills have caused a large number of complaints because of mechanical problems.

Hectronic’s bids were for $6,695 per machine that took just coins and credit cards and $9,800 for machines that also took dollars. ATI’s bids were $6,680 and $9,533 per machine respectively. Since the bid prices were nearly equal, Falk said she wanted the board members to be able to see the machines so that they could make a decision based on usability factors.

The board also delayed taking action on a proposal to change zoning laws on tourist accommodations. The zoning board is considering proposals to limit tourist accommodations based on street frontage and lot size.

Planning Board Chair Charlie Hill and zoning enforcement officer Tavis Austin have compiled a spread sheet of all known short-term rentals in Cooperstown and presented it to the trustees on Monday. According to their report, about 5 percent, or 41, of the houses in the village are for short-term rentals.

The initial planning board recommendation is for short-term rentals to have at least 70 feet of street frontage and .275 acres of land. Nearly half of the properties on the list do not meet those requirements. In addition, at least five do not have proper permits based on current laws.

According to Katz, the intent of the changes is to encourage long-term rentals and to establish a district for short-term rentals. However, Hill recommended the board take time to consider the impact of changing the law. There are 17 properties on the list that don’t meet the requirements, but do ave the permits to run as short-term rentals.

“If you adopt the new law with a sunset provision, then those 17 businesses would have to go in five years, and I am not sure that that’s your intention,” he said.