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Caz College expansion worries village neighbors

When they heard that Cazenovia College was considering buying the home at 9 Nickerson Street, Village Trustee Kurt Wheeler and several other local residents hoped higher offers from interested families would prevent the college from expanding into another village residence.

"Those of us who live in the neighborhood have profound concerns about the college controlling four contiguous parcels directly across from the quad and adjacent to a vibrant residential neighborhood," said Wheeler, who lives down the street from the property. "The college already owns six parcels - four homes and two empty lots - in the Nickerson/Liberty neighborhood. The loss of another will severely undermine the residential quality of the area."

Wheeler said he submitted an offer on behalf of a family who wanted to live there. He hoped to help prevent the loss of another residential property.

"The loss of a low-cost single family home is also of concern at a time when the school district has identified the lack of affordable housing as a contributing factor to declining enrollmen," Wheeler said.

After a few days, though, his offer was declined, he said.

Wheeler was on the committee that drafted new zoning for the college district. The intent of the zoning was to discourage Cazenovia College from expanding into more residential properties and to allow the college more freedom to expand within their original campus.

"Wednesday's purchase offer is in direct contrast to these community goals and the college's oft-repeated statement that they are not seeking to buy more properties," Wheeler said.

Representatives of the college declined to comment until they could offer more concrete details.

While it looks like a done deal for now, Wheeler said that concerned parties plan to form a neighborhood advocacy group and legal defense fund "to fight future erosion of village neighborhoods."

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