Plans for new, bigger Price Chopper inch ahead

CHATHAM — The Town of Ghent Planning Board hosted the Village of Chatham Planning Board at a joint meeting Wednesday, August 24 with representatives from Price Chopper.

“This is not a public hearing,” Ghent Planning Board Chair Jonathan Walters said at the start of the meeting, though he did allow comments from the village and town board members. Village Trustees Leal Locke and Joanne DelRossi and Mayor Tom Curran attended the meeting as did Ghent Town Board member Larry VanBrunt. Price Chopper representatives were at the meeting to present the design of the new store the company plans to build in Ghent in a lot adjacent to the market it currently operates. Steven Duffy, a company vice president for planning design, mentioned several times during the presentation that Price Chopper was proceeding differently than it normally would with a new store in order to address the concerns of town and village officials.

The planning boards were concerned about the catch basin for rainwater, knowing there is a drainage issue at the site. The proposed store’s design includes a catch basin that would collect the runoff and slowly release it into the stream on the site. “If everything goes according to plan, they are going to get less water out then before,” Mr. Walters said of overflow issues. The plan shows the presence of wetlands on the property protected by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Being overly conservative like we have been here is not normal,” said Mike Tucker, a designer on the project, referring to the catch basin.

The company store representatives also said there will be lots of planting on the site not only to handle runoff but to hide the loading docks that face the village. “The visuals have been a huge issue for everyone,” said Mr. Tucker.

Mr. Duffy reminded the boards that they have been coming to meetings to plan the project for two and half years. Showing detailed computer images of the latest design of the proposed new store, he said of that it “takes more of a local farm theme.” The new market, which would be about twice the size of the existing one, would be open 24 hours and have a drive-through pharmacy. The sign for the store will be illuminated by hidden lights, and trees will be planted along the entrance on Route 66.

There was a discussion about the look of the packaging plant, which is what the designers call the sewer treatment system building on the sight. Mitch Khosrova, a lawyer representing Price Chopper in this matter, said the plant wouldn’t be necessary if the new store could connect to the village sewer system. The state has approved Price Chopper’s request to use the village’s sewer system pending village board approval, but several trustees have expressed opposition to that proposal. The proposed building will, however, use village water, though much of the site lies in the town of Ghent not within the village.

The boards will have to meet again to hold a public hearing on the proposal, along with the town’s Zoning Board Appeals. They have tentatively set a date to meet on September 19 at the Tracy Memorial in Chatham.

Meanwhile Hampshire, the company that owns the plaza that houses the existing Price Chopper market, is moving forward with plans to expand the building used by the market. “We think it’s the right spot,” said Dan Tuczinski, a lawyer who represents the owners of the plaza. Hampshire wants Price Chopper to stay put and has said it is willing to expand the current 23,000-square-foot store to match the dimensions of the new 45,000-square-foot store that Price Chopper has proposed.

A mailing from the “Concerned Citizens for Smart Growth in Chatham, Inc.” went to village residents with a picture of the Plaza on Route 66 and text urging people to “contact your local representatives and let them know how strongly you support the Village of Chatham in its efforts to keep Price Chopper in the Chatham Plaza.” The full-color mailing did not identify any members of the “Concerned Citizens” group nor did it offer any way to contact the organization other than a post office box in Chatham.

Village trustees contacted by the Columbia Paper did not know who sent the mailing, nor did the president of the Chatham Area Business Alliance, Kathy Stumph. Emails and calls to Hampshire Company lawyers were not returned by press time.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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