If they build it, who will come?

CHATHAM – The engineers and lawyers for the Hampshire Company presented their plans for expanding the Chatham Plaza on Route 66 at a public hearing in front of the village Planning Board and a packed room of village residents this week.

The Planning Board scheduled the public hearing last month after discussing the plans with Doug Clark of Clark Engineering in New Lebanon, and Hampshire Company lawyer Bill Better.

At the public hearing Monday, February 27 Mr. Better and Mr. Clark answered the public’s questions about the project. Erin Moore, also from Clark Engineering, gave a short talk on the drainage issues raised by the 18,000-square-foot addition Hampshire is proposing, mostly to expand the supermarket in the Plaza from 23,000 square feet to about 45,000 square feet.

The proposed plan would eliminate one store in the plaza and much of the addition would be built on the back of the structure.

The largest store space in the plaza currently houses Price Chopper. The supermarket company plans to leave its current space in the plaza and build a new, larger store on a lot adjacent to the plaza.

“The Hampshire Company is committed to expanding the plaza,” said Mr. Better.

Price Chopper, which is owned by the Golub corporation in Schenectady, has repeatedly said it plans to pursue construction of a new market next door to the plaza and has sought final approval from the Town of Ghent and the Village of Chatham. But Mr. Better said of his company’s plan for expanding the Plaza, “If the community needs a bigger grocery store, we are planning to meet that.” The computer-generated images of the remodeled plaza show the Price Chopper sign on the front of the building it plans to vacate.

Norman Feinstein, a vice president with the Hampshire Company in New Jersey, also attended the meeting, said that Hampshire has been trying to work with Price Chopper since 2004 about the expansion.

Mr. Feinstein said that Price Chopper holds the lease on the Plaza store until 2019 and that Price Chopper doesn’t intend to terminate the lease before it expires. He said Price Chopper could use the expanded store if his company is granted approval to make the changes and construction can start.

Village engineer Pat Prendergast said at the meeting that he needed to review some comments from the state, but that the application from Hampshire is complete.

Cheryl Roberts, special counsel for the village in this matter, said the board would keep the public hearing open to receive more comments, and at its next meeting the Planning Board will look over the state environmental quality review form, called SEQR, and review draft motions calling for approval of the site plans.

As for the drainage, Ms. Moore said that the expansion would have little impact on storm water runoff at the site, since Hampshire does not plan to add much more blacktop or make substantial increases in the size of the structure.

The plans call for shifting the layout of stores in the Plaza, moving LaGonia’s Pizza and Café to the south end of the building, and moving the supermarket to an enlarged space in the middle. The vacant storefront at the north end of the Plaza will be eliminated.

The village is currently suing the Town of Ghent over the environmental review the town approved for Price Chopper to build on the site next door to the plaza. The plaza lies within the village and uses village water and sewer. The site where Price Chopper plans wants to build on is mostly in the town with a small part in the village.

The next village Planning Board meeting will be Monday March 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial in Chatham.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email moc.r1566657192epapa1566657192ibmul1566657192oc@el1566657192adsae1566657192te1566657192.

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