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November 7, 2013

Proposed historic district in Springfield tabled

The effort to establish a historic district in the town of Springfield has officially been tabled.

“It was a good thing,” said Kenneth Ostrander, one of the leading opponents of the district.

The Springfield Historical Association has been trying to get the Springfield Patent designated as a historic district since 1994, according to society president Noel Dries.

The town board gave approval for this effort in December 2011, but as it moved forward, resistance began to materialize.

“I think there was a great deal of misunderstanding,” said Dries, who said that opponents of the designation had claimed that, were it to pass, Springfield would be subject to property restrictions similar to the ones in place in the village of Cooperstown.

Dries said, however, that the Cooperstown restrictions are the result of a local statute, not because it is in the Glimmerglass Historic District. Indeed, Dries claims that if the Springfield Patent Historic District were approved, which would encompass most of the eastern part of Springfield, no additional restrictions on landowners would result.

“There were no new restrictions going to be put in place,” said Dries.

According to Dries, the only change that the designation would institute would be that property owners with properties 50 years old or older could apply for grants and be eligible for tax credits to repair and improve them. The district would not prevent these landowners, however, from modifying or destroying historic properties if they chose to do so.

Ostrander didn’t point to any unacceptable restrictions in the district as a reason for his opposition. Rather, he objected to the process with which it had been brought forward.

“There was no open transparency,” said Ostrander. “No open forums, no public meetings.”

He also said that the district was being supported by people from outside the town, including those associated with the conservation group Otsego 2000. And while the district might not legally pave the way for stricter local regulations, Ostrander said that it could set a precedent that those wanting to put in preservation based land restrictions could hold up.

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