SUNY SKi Lodge could become fire school; zoning change needed 1st


By Patsy Nicosia

Plans to turn SUNY Cobleskill’s ski lodge into a fire training school and bunkhouse have some substantial zoning hurdles to clear before they can move ahead.
The Town of Cobleskill’s Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on the needed zoning changes Thursday, June 22, at 5:30pm at Mineral Springs Road Codes/Conference Room.
Site plan review of the project itself would be the next step, said Codes Enforcement Officer Pete Irwin, but SUNY Cobleskill Auxiliary Services’ request for a “special exemption” would have to be granted first.
The CAS proposal calls for renovating the ski lodge, largely vacant, unheated, and unused for the last five years, and then leasing it to a 454 Fire LLC, a START-UP NY company, for training firefighters.
The six acres of CAS property is private, but adjoining property at the site is owned by New York State—which the local zoning has no authority over.
According to the CAS application, the properties will continue to be available for use by students and faculty for recreation, research, and education and for livestock grazing.
The ski lodge will be renovated for a bunk room for up to 12 firemen, who’ll attend the school for two-three days at a time; the state-owned land will be used for fire training—burning a variety of materials in 55-foot trailers so firefighters can learn how to extinguish them, Mr. Irwin said.
The site is zoned Rural Residential, which doesn’t permit the proposed project or bunkhouse and a request for a permithas already been turned down on those grounds; the request for a special exemption is the next step, Mr. Irwin said.
The project is also not permitted by a special use permit, he said—and the special exemption request is treading uncharted ground: It’s part of the town’s code, but has never been used and isn’t even very well defined.
CAS had previously looked into turning the ski lodge into a dorm, but that’s not a permitted use in RR either.
The ski lodge property is located on Route 7 in the Town of Cobleskill, but borders the Town of Richmondville.
Neighbors within 200 feet of the site must be notified by mail of the hearing on the 22nd; concerns they’re likely to have, Codes officials said, include smoke from the training fires.