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.”
The trustees agreed to re-open the issue of parking on Beaver Street between Eagle and Delaware streets, after hearing from former mayor Carol Waller, who said she did not know about the May public hearing to change the parking outside her Beaver Street house. In May the trustees voted to ban parking on the north side of the street after hearing from other residents who complained that ambulances and shuttles to and from Bassett Medical Center were clogging the street. The new proposal is to allow parking from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.
“We have a short driveway,” said Waller. “We can’t have friends visit now because there is no place to park. They’re not going to walk all the way to Chestnut and Eagle is usually filled.”
Trustee Ellen Tillapaugh said that Waller was not the only Beaver Street resident she had heard from since the block went from two-hour parking allowed 24-hours-a-day to no parking. She said that she lives close enough to observe the traffic patterns and that the new change would be a good compromise.
“I have to agree that going from all-day parking to zero parking is drastic,” she said. “I think to not have parking there during the day will solve 90 percent of the traffic problems.”
Several Railroad Avenue residents expressed concern that a building at 25 Railroad Avenue them was reclassified from mixed use to commercial without neighbor notification. Mayor Jeff Katz explained that zoning changes do not require notification; the trustees voted to hold a public hearing to require the village to notify all neighbors within 100 feet of a property about possible zoning changes.
“There was no problem with the process,” Katz said. “The question is, is the process the problem? We require notification for a lot of things, but this was not one of them.”
The trustees held only one public hearing in June, on an issue that did not draw comment, voting unanimously to move a handicap space to the west side of the crosswalk in front of 104 Main St. and returning the handicap space in front of 100 Main St. to two-hour parking.
In other news, the trustees approved 5-0 a permit for fireworks at Fairy Spring Park on Saturday, July 5. Trustee Bruce Maxson abstained as he applied for the permit as a representative of the fire department.
The trustees also considered but took no action on a plan to fill in potholes this summer. The trustees and members of the streets committee have been debating renting or purchasing a durapatcher.