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October 22, 2008

 

Farmers market move draws mixed reactions

By ELAINE HUGHES
Staff reporter
ehughes@cortlandstandard.net

Many residents and business owners spoke in opposition of moving the downtown farmers market to a new location in a city-owned parking lot next the Marketplace Mall on Main Street at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.
Vendor Ben Harmon said he was concerned about cars parked in the lot restricting the space needed for vendors to put up canopies.
“I’ve never heard of any accidents happening in the current location,” Harmon said. “It’s visible and safe. The current location is what people want.”
Edwin Keep, head of the Cortland Veterans of Foreign Wars, said he was concerned about elderly drivers maneuvering through the increased traffic in the lot.
A county Legislature subcommittee on local agriculture promotion proposed moving the market earlier this month from its Main Street location just south of West Court Street.
The council serves as the board of directors for the farmers market and must approve the market’s location.
The council does not oversee the market’s daily setup and was not involved with the proposed change, said Mayor Tom Gallagher, who received a letter Oct. 16 from the subcommittee informing him of the proposal.
The farmers market would continue to take place from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Lisa Lickona of McGraw, a new market vendor, said the market could benefit from having an enclosed space that would make customers feel more comfortable.
Legislator Kathie Arnold (D-Cuyler, Solon and Truxton), who chairs the subcommittee, said the intent was to find a location that could allow for expansion, not to relocate vendors against their wishes.
The subcommittee is composed of members of the county planning committee and farmers market vendors, along with representatives from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, Cortland Downtown Partnership, and the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Gallagher said he sent inquiries about the feasibility of the new location to the city fire, police, and public works departments and needs to hear feedback from those officials before a decision is made.
Also Tuesday, the council passed a fee schedule for a local law requiring developers to pay for third-pay reviews requested by the city Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.
Passed at the Oct. 8 meeting, the law requires project sponsors to give the city an amount of money based on the estimated value of construction for the project. The law is meant to keep the city’s code department from exhausting its budget hiring third-party engineers to review proposed projects. The department gives its recommendations to the Planning Commission.
The fee schedule will range from a $250 deposit for projects with a construction value less than $25,000 to a $5,000 deposit for anything more than $2 million in construction value. If that money is not completely used for third-party reviews, the developer will get the remainder back.
If the fee is spent and the city needs more, the developer must give more money to the city.
The council also approved the formation of a committee to create guidelines for using city-owned vehicles. There are 22 vehicles that city officials drive home and use for responding to emergency situations.
“There’s no intention to eliminate their use,” said Alderman Susan Feiszli (D-6th Ward), who will head the committee. “We just need to evaluate where they’re going and how they’re being used.”

 

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