Cobleskill ZBA delays decision on Zion


By Jim Poole

A decision on Cobleskill’s Zion Lutheran Church isn’t coming right away.
The village Zoning Board of Appeals was expected to act on a variance this past Tuesday, but the meeting’s been moved to April 25.
RJ Freitag, the potential owner, is seeking a variance to convert the burned-out, vacant church into a restaurant and performance center.
Village codes don’t permit a restaurant at the Main Street site.
To get the variance, Mr. Freitag must satisfactorily explain why he can’t get a decent return on a permitted use––apartments, for instance.
He wanted more time to assemble figures, and the ZBA wants the information before the meeting to review it first, according to ZBA Chair Sandy MacKay.
“At least one board member wanted to have the information in advance. And then it was a question of who was available when,” Mr. MacKay said, explaining the meeting being delayed a month.
Contacted Monday, Mr. Freitag said his consultant, Clemens McGiver, is pulling the numbers together.
Mr. Freitag is confident those numbers will show apartments couldn’t bring in revenue to cover the cost of renovating the church––estimated at $750,000 to $1 million.
“The law allows four units, and that would be in a 12,000-square-foot building,” Mr. Freitag said. “There’s no way that’s feasible.”
A bit frustrated at the delay, he added that he’s not quitting.
“We’ll take our time,” Mr. Freitag said. “I think it will work out. We’re not going away.”
Supporters for his project turned out at a late February ZBA meeting. They argued that the church is an historic landmark, that Mr. Freitag’s plan makes sense, and that there’s nobody else interested in buying the building.
At that meeting, the ZBA set up the March 26 meeting, which is now moved to April 25.