CHATHAM – The Village Planning Board heard an alternative view this week for what Price Chopper could do to expand its current store on Route 66 instead of building a new one nearby. But representatives from Price Chopper who attended the board’s regular meeting Monday, June 20, to present some revisions to the plans for the project rejected that plan. They also asked the board to make the Town of Ghent the lead agency for state environmental review of the project.
Although only a small part of the site for the proposed Price Chopper lies within the village, company representatives said they were starting from zero on the village approval process. Since last week, when company officials discussed details of the proposal with the Village Board, the project has changed slightly to include a proposal for sidewalks that would lead to the new store.
Lawyers Bill Better and Dan Tuczinski representing the Hampshire Company, which owns the plaza on Route 66 that now houses the Price Chopper, came to Monday’s meeting with a counter proposal. Rather than have the supermarket company build a new building next door in the Town of Ghent, they had plans from Doug Clark, an engineer in New Lebanon, which showed how Price Chopper could double the size of the current store and add more parking spaces there.
The lawyers and Mr. Clark stressed the importance of looking at alternatives to construction of a new building on the wetlands that are part of the site the supermarket company is considering for its new market. “The SEQR process is about looking at possibilities,” said Mr. Clark, referring to the state environmental quality review.
Mr. Clark also said that an expanded store at the same site could use the village water and sewer hook-ups because the larger store would create only a modest increase in use. Price Chopper would have to build a new waste treatment plant onsite if the company moves to its new lot, but Price Chopper does plan to use village water.
Mr. Better and Mr. Tuczinski urged the village planners not to give up their status as lead agency in the environmental review, with Mr. Tuczinski saying, “90% of the square footage is in Ghent and 90% of the impact is in Chatham.”
Lawyers for Price Chopper, and a lawyer advising the board that evening, said that the board could not look at economic impact in its evaluation of the new building and that board members need to make their decision based on zoning laws in the village.
Mitchell Khosrova, a lawyer for Price Chopper, talked about the project developing over time, with input from the four different boards involved in the review process: the Chatham village and town boards and the planning boards.
Mike Tucker, a designer working on the new building, said he worked closely with state Department of Environmental Conservation about the wetlands and wastewater, adding that he believes the state will approve how the company plans to handle both those issues.
Charles Chisholm, a real estate representative from Price Chopper, talked about adding a floral department in the new store, a 24-hour pharmacy with more space for consultations, a larger meat and seafood counter and a sushi counter.
He told the board that renovations disrupt the shopping experience at the store and that it would be more expensive for the company to upgrade the old store than build a new one.
Mr. Chisholm said that 35 new jobs would be created at a new store. He anticipates over 100 construction jobs during the building phase.
He also made it clear that Price Chopper is not interested in expanding the current store. “We don’t believe the enlargement would work, and we wouldn’t have the incentive to do it,” Mr. Chisholm said.
After the board heard from Price Chopper and the counter offer from Hampshire for an expanded store, members of the public spoke. The owners of Lagonia’s Pizza and Route 66 Spirits were at the meeting along with three of the five Village Board members as well as many plaza neighbors.
“What’s good for Price Chopper isn’t necessarily good for Chatham,” said Kathy Stumph, president of the Chatham Area Business Alliance.
The Chatham Village Planning Board meets the third Monday of the month. Agendas are posted online at the village website at www.villageofchatham.com.