Ghent gives market a green light

Chatham still has one last say

GHENT – After three years of working with the town Planning Board on the site plan for a proposed Price Chopper building on Route 66, including hours of public comments in rooms filled with residents voicing pro and con views, the board approved the plans at a special meeting on May 29. The meeting was attended by representatives from both Price Chopper and the Schuyler Companies, the management firm that will build the 45,000-square-foot building.

The decision marks the second set of approvals involving major new retail space along state Route 66 at the south end of Chatham in the last two weeks. On May 16 the Village of Chatham Planning Board approved a proposal by the Hampshire Company, which owns the Chatham Plaza, to expand the plaza to accommodate a retail space twice as large as the one now used by the Price Chopper supermarket.

Despite that expansion, Price Chopper plans to open a new, larger supermarket in a lot next door, and this week’s approval from Ghent clears what may be the final substantial for that plan.

Both the Town of Ghent and the Village of Chatham are involved because the new site for the Price Chopper is mostly in Ghent, but a small section is within the village, and the village has central water and sewer systems.

The Village Planning Board will consider approval of the site plans, but it only has jurisdiction over the small portion that is in the village. Also, the Village Board must decide whether to approve the use of the municipal water and sewer. At a Village Board meeting several months ago, the village engineer Pat Prendergast advised the board that there was more than enough water and there should be capacity in the sewer system for both the expanded plaza and the new Price Chopper store. Cheryl Roberts, special counsel to the Chatham Village and Planning boards, has told the trustees that since the Price Chopper building is partially in the village the supermarket would have the right to hook-up to the water and sewer.

The seven-page resolution by the Ghent Planning Board approves not only the site plan but a subdivision of the property owned by FairPoint Communications. The resolution also requests that the applicant, which is called Chatham Associates of Albany on the resolution, comply with screening and landscaping plans presented to and approved by the board and that the company build a sidewalk in front of the store that officials hope will connect to a sidewalk built in front of the Chatham Plaza, which is adjacent to the new building. The object is to connect the new supermarket to the village sidewalk.

The Planning Board also required that the owners of the new market “shall consent to the installation of a connecting roadway to the adjoining shopping plaza…provided that the owner of the existing plaza is agreeable to the installation.”

Only one of the seven board members voted against approving the site plan. Dana Rosenstreich said the site plan did not comply with the town’s comprehensive plan. She did approve the subdivision plan.

The other board members praised the applicants’ patience, perseverance and flexibility in reworking the designs based on comments from the board and the community. “The application has come a huge distance from what they first proposed,” said Planning Board Chairman Jonathan Walters.

“The project will… have a positive impact on the town and community,” said board member Gary Ocean.

Other board members made similar comments about the project. Board member Martin Silver thanked the representatives of the applicant for their willingness to work with their “adversarial neighbor,” a reference the Hampshire Company.

Representatives from Hampshire have said many times at meetings that a connecting road would not be possible because of one landowner who has a strip of land between the two buildings. Bill Better, a lawyer for the Hampshire Company, attended the meeting but did not comment.

Mr. Walters did not have kind words for the Chatham Village Board and the Village Planning Board. The Village Board sued the Ghent Planning Board, seeking to reverse Ghent’s environmental review of the project. “The Ghent Planning Board took great pains to coordinate with the Village Planning Board,” he said at the meeting. He also said that the town Planning Board would have liked to have been consulted on the expansion at the Chatham Plaza.

He thanked his board members for all their work on the project. Board member Larry Machiz thanked Mr. Walters, the town lawyer Ted Guterman and town engineer Carl Matuszek for their efforts. The company will put $10,000 in escrow for the town to pay for future consulting.

In an email to the Columbia Paper, representatives from the Golub Company, which owns Price Chopper, said, “We’re pleased that subdivision and site plan approvals have been issued and that the process continues to move forward.”

Moving forward will mean getting approval from the Village Planning Board and Board of Trustees. The village board meets next on Thursday June 14 at 7:30 and the planning board meets Monday June 18 at 7:30 p.m. Both meetings are in the Tracy Memorial in Chatham.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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