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June 26, 2014

Village to hold big public hearings in July

Tourist accommodation law that sparked debate to be on agenda

July will be a busy month for the Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees.

At the village’s June meeting on Monday, the trustees voted to set four public hearings for the July 28 meeting, including bringing back some big issues that had “packed the room” last year, according to village attorney Martin Tillapaugh.

The tourist accommodation law, which was tabled a year ago after sharp debate, is the feature attraction in July, but three other public hearings will also likely spur debate considering two of them were sparked by citizens speaking out on Monday. The trustees voted to hold pubic hearings about zoning-change notifications, parking on Beaver Street and changes to the vending law. The former two hearings were set after resident comments while the latter issue, much like the tourist accommodation law, has been debated for some time and will affect area businesses.

All four public hearings were approved unanimously. Trustee Lou Allstadt was not at the meeting.

Tillapaugh told the trustees that he thought 90 percent of the problems with the previous draft of the tourist accommodation law had been a five-year sunset provision that ended rental use of non-conforming structures. Under the old draft, all non-comformers would have lost the right to a newly created license. Under the new draft, the only non-conforming rentals that would be subject to the sunset in five years would be ones that had five or more complaints from three or more sources during a three-year span.

The complaints would have to be deemed legitimate by the village police, and the Zoning Board would offer final judgment. The requirement of three different complaintants came about because of a concern that one angry neighbor could hurt an otherwise upstanding business.

“Of those non-conforming structures, there are nine or 10 of them, and the complaints are almost always about the same three or four of them, for whatever reason,” Tillapaugh said. “This still has a sunset provision, but non-conforming can continue to operate if they are not accumulating valid complaints, which most of them do not.”

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