One big store okayed, a second awaits a vote

GHENT–The Planning Board held a special meeting Wednesday, May 16 to hammer out details with the proposed Price Chopper building on Route 66. Representatives from the supermarket chain and Schuyler Management Companies, the firm that hopes to build the new 45,000-square-foot store, had hoped to have a final decision from the board at the meeting, but that did not happen.

A few days later just up the road in Chatham, the village Planning Board approved the site plans for an expansion of the plaza that currently houses Price Chopper in the Chatham Plaza. On Monday, May 21, the Chatham Planning Board signed off on a new retail space in the plaza that Price Chopper will leave when it moves door. The new space in the old plaza will also be 45,000 square feet.

“We are happy with the approval,” said Bill Better, a lawyer for the Hampshire Company, which owns the Chatham Plaza. Speaking after the meeting, he said the approval demonstrates “unequivocally that there is enough room for a larger store” at the Plaza.

He praised the village Planning Board, saying the board had been fair and through in its review of the site plans over a four-month period. The plans include reducing the size of at least two of the current retail spaces in the plaza to make room for the bigger store; the company will also expand at the back of the Plaza.

On Monday night the board reviewed the lighting and screening plans before voting to approve the project. Board member Aaron Gaylord said of the new signs and lighting at the store, “It’s going to be a lot more attractive.”

The existing plaza is within village, but most of the site where Price Chopper plans to move lies just outside the village boundaries in the Town of Ghent, just a few feet away from the plaza. It is up to the Ghent Planning Board to determine the conditions that will be part of the permit the town will issue for construction of the new supermarket.

Last week in Ghent the town Planning Board decided to schedule yet another special meeting on the store plan, this one for Tuesday, May 29 at 7 p.m. Planning Board Chairman Jonathan Walters said he expects Price Chopper to have all final plans available for the board at that meeting.

It has been a long process for Price Chopper and Schuyler, also known as Chatham Properties, as they have sought approval from the town. Only last month a state judge dismissed lawsuits brought against the companies and the town Planning Board by the Village of Chatham and Hampshire Company over the environmental review. Because a small part of the new building site is in the village, Price Chopper hopes to use municipal water and sewer.

Ghent has held several public hearings on the supermarket permit, including one joint hearing with the village Planning Board, since Price Chopper first proposed the new building nearly three years ago.

At the special meeting May 16, board members were asking about the look of a retaining wall along the side of the store and about the lighting.

When Price Chopper attorney Mitchell Khosrova pointed out that the lighting had been discussed with the board over a year ago, board member Dana Rosenstreich said, “We cannot force through something that the public is going to have a huge problem with.”

“This project stopped making sense a year ago,” said Eric Larner, owner of Schuyler Companies. He said he had hoped, with great anticipation, that the board would make a decision that night.

Town attorney Ted Gutterman urged the board “to come to some finality on this.”

The board reviewed and read in full each section and sub-section of the zoning laws in the town when looking at the project at the meeting, and they had a draft resolution to approve the site plans in front of them.

But action on the proposal has to wait until at least the special meeting May 29, when Planning Board members have the full proposal in front of them. At that time the board also anticipates Schuyler will have proposed a way to address the board’s concerns about lighting and the wall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .


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