CHATHAM — The Village Board heard last week from lawyers, business owners and the vice president of the company that owns the plaza on Route 66 about Price Chopper’s plans to leave its current site and build a new store next door.
Representatives from Price Chopper also attended the June 9 regular meeting to explain why they want to build a store just outside the village in the town of Ghent that’s twice the size of their current store. A corner of the proposed store would lie within the Village of Chatham, enabling Price Chopper to hook up to village water. But the company will have to build its own septic system rather than use the village’s sewer system.
At the meeting Norman Fienstein, vice president of the Hampshire Company, which owns the plaza on Route 66 in the village, said his firm started discussing expanding the store with Price Chopper five years ago. “We are prepared to do whatever they need to expand,” he said.
Bill Better, a local lawyer for the Hampshire Company, stressed the importance of keeping the store in the village. He said between taxes and water and sewer fees, the plaza now pays $95,000 to $100,000 a year to the village. Mr. Better and other supporters of keeping the Price Chopper in the plaza talked about the issue of empty storefronts in the village. “It does not help the village to move the store to the town of Ghent,” said Dan Tuczinski, another Hampshire Company lawyer. Mr. Tuczinski asked the village to do more research on the project before the Planning Boards for the village and town approve it.
Representatives from Price Chopper talked about the disruptions caused by renovating the old building, the limited parking at the current site and the company’s plan to build a LEED certified structure, a reference to buildings that meet strict environmental standards. “Going next door makes a lot more sense for us,” said Charles Chisholm from Price Chopper.
But Doug Clark of Clark Engineering, a local firm, responded, “The greenest building is the one you don’t have to build.”
Many of the other store owners in the plaza voiced their concerns about the impact of Price Chopper’s decision to leave.
Mr. Chrisholm said that Price Chopper holds the lease on the building housing it market for seven years and it was in the company’s best interest to find a tenant for the space.
The Town of Ghent and Village of Chatham planning boards have scheduled a joint public hearing in the Price Chopper application Wednesday, July 6 at 7 p.m. at the Ghent Town Hall, Route 66 in the hamlet.
Mr. Better warned the Village Board that it needed to act before the hearing. “It’s not too late, but it will be too late in a month,” he said, and the board adopted a motion to explore options to keep Price Chopper in its current location.
The next regular Village Board meeting will be July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.
Board extends trustee’s insurance coverage
AT THE JUNE 9 MEETING, the Chatham Village board resolved the issue of Trustee George Grant’s health insurance, which has been paid for by the village for several years.
Trustee Joanne DelRossi brought up the issue at the last regular Village Board meeting, saying then that there is no record of a board resolution authorizing the practice of paying for any trustee’s health insurance as the law requires. The coverage for Mr. Grant currently costs the village $6,000 annually. He is the only trustee who has opted to receive the healthcare benefit.
Ms. DelRossi said at last Thursday’s meeting that taxpayers have been covering his insurance for seven years.
After much debate at both meetings, the board adopted authorizing the coverage to continue until Mr. Grant’s current term ends in March of next year. Mr. Grant also volunteered?????????? to give back his salary as a board member, about $2,000, as a partial reimbursement for the insurance payment.
Since his term ends in March and the village budget is not finalized until May, Mr. Grant said the village would save $1,000 on the total cost of the policy.
“This has been a difficult topic,” said Mayor Tom Curran. — Emilia Teasdale