CHATHAM–The Village Board held a special meeting Wednesday, November 18, to discuss the offer by the Schuyler Companies to pay for a connection to the village water and sewer lines for a proposed new Price Chopper building on Route 66.
The company has offered the village $50,000 in one-time hook-up fees as well a guarantee to pay standard rates for the water and sewer service. It has also offered to enter into a PILOT agreement, an acronym for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, which would have the firm pay the village $20,000 a year for 20 years.
The proposed new 45,000-square-foot building is still in the early phases of development. The Schuyler Companies, a company in Latham that develops commercial properties, does not own the building in the Chatham plaza where Price Chopper now operates its store, but Schuyler reportedly does have a 10-year lease on the property.
Schuyler wants to double the size of the current Chatham supermarket by building a new store on seven acres adjacent to the plaza. Most of that land lies outside the village boundaries in the Town of Ghent.
At Wednesday’s meeting village Trustee Lael Locke asked whether a project as large as the this one would have a major impact on the village sewer system.
Mayor Paul Bohme said the new building would have virtually no impact on sewer use, saying that the proposed market would use less water than the average home in the village.
What was up for debate was the fact that only a small portion of the building would be in the village. “The Pandora’s box is open,” said Trustee George Grant, who said that giving Schuyler Companies permission to use the water and sewer lines would encourage other people outside the village to ask for the service.
“We have the option to sell a service to something outside the village,” said Trustee Dave Chapman, referring to the offer from the Schuyler Companies to pay a hook-up fee and continue to pay standard rates for the service.
“Just because you did it today you don’t have to do it tomorrow,” said Mr. Bohme.
Trustees also discussed incorporating the whole plot of land into the village, But Mayor Bohme said that the Town of Ghent is not interested in having the village annex the land. If the land became part of the village, there would be no controversy over allowing the company to hook up to the water and sewer and Ghent would still get some tax revenue, said Mr. Bohme.
Mr. Grant said that other businesses on Route 66 do not use the municipal services because they are outside the village limits, and he worried that the village might face litigation in the future over access to village services if the board makes an exception for Schuyler.
Mr. Grant also reminded the board that the village sewer plant is out of compliance with regulations enforced by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “What is the DEC going to make us do to tie them in?” he asked.
The proposal from the Schuyler Companies does say the firm wants to collaborate with the village “to obtain approval from the Department of Environmental Conservation for the sewer.”
Mr. Bohme said that the money for the Price Chopper would be a benefit. “It’s $20,000 a year that we don’t have to pay,” he said, though he and other trustees were concerned that the PILOT proposal does not include increases in future years to account for inflation.
Another local concern about the land that Schuyler wants to use for the new supermarket involves drainage of storm water. The mayor said that engineers for the village and the Town of Ghent are looking into that. “If the drainage is screwed up the whole village is going to be screwed up,” said Mr. Bohme.
Mr. Bohme called the company’s initial offer a good starting point for negotiations. But by the end of the meeting, village trustees realized that they had more questions not only for the Schuyler Companies but also for the village lawyer and engineer.
The Ghent Planning Board expects to get a more detailed plan from Schuyler at the planners’ December 2 meeting. And the issue is likely to come up again at the next regular Chatham Village Board meeting Thursday, December 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.