CHATHAM–The Village Board heard another round of complaints last week from residents concerned about cuts made in Police Department hours.
Also at the special meeting held Thursday, September 27, the board met with lawyers from Price Chopper about the proposed new supermarket building on Route 66 hooking up to municipal water and sewer. Price Chopper lawyer Peter Lynch said that his client and Cheryl Roberts, special counsel to the village on this issue, “have not come to a meeting of the minds” on a contract for water and sewer services.
Most of the property where the supermarket chain plans to build its new store is in the Town of Ghent, but a small part of the land is in the village. In 2009, Price Chopper and the Schuyler Company, the developer for the project, began the process of getting approval on the new sites. Their lawyers came to the Village Board at that time to ask for approval to use the village water and sewer. But since then the composition of the board has changed, with only one trustee remaining who was present at the meetings three years ago.
In 2009 then Trustee George Grant told the board at a November meeting that the village sewer plant was out of compliance with state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations. “What is the DEC going to make us do to tie them in?” Mr. Grant asked at the time.
Back then the DEC told the board that the village could not connect any new users to the sewer system without upgrades. But the board is now moving forward with a $2.3-million project to upgrade the sewer. With those upgrades in the works, the DEC has given approval for new projects to use the sewer system.
Mr. Lynch reminded the board last week, “This particular project has been in front of you several times.” He reviewed the original offer the company made to the village in 2009 of $50,000 up front to pay for the hook-up and $20,000 a year for the next 20 years as a payment in lieu of taxes in addition to paying regular water and sewer rates.
Mr. Lynch said Price Chopper and Schuyler “are still open to suggestions” about the contract but the supermarket chain, owned by the Golub Company of Schenectady, believes that because some of the site for the new store is within village boundaries, the village cannot deny the request for municipal water and sewer services.
The company has a wastewater treatment system approved by the DEC in its site plan, but the lawyer said Schuyler and Price Chopper would rather connect to the village utilities. “The money would be better spent being part of the municipal system,” he said.
The board then went into executive session to discuss the issue further with the lawyers. When members returned to open session the board adopted a motion allowing their counsel to continue negotiations “pending litigation,” said Mayor Tom Curran.
The site plan for the building has already received approval from the Ghent Planning Board and is now being reviewed by the village Planning Board, which meets next on Monday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.
The board also went into executive session to discuss whether to hire Walt Simonsmeier as building inspector. Mr. Simonsmeier is already the building inspector for the towns of Ghent and Chatham. Trustee Lael Locke said the decision about hiring the building inspector should be discussed in closed session, and after discussing Ms. Locke’s concerns in private the board appointed him.
On the issue of the village Police Department, the mayor cut 250 hours annually, reducing Sunday coverage by local officers in the village. The mayor said at the beginning of the meeting that the board does not want to eliminate the Police Department, adding, “That is not on my agenda.”
But most of the 60 residents who came to the meeting said they didn’t want any cuts in the police and worried about safety in the village. And they also expressed concerns about not being informed of the boards’ decisions on budget issues.
The mayor entertained questions from the audience at the end of the meeting, answering some of the their concerns about moving money from the police budget line to the Fire Department budget line for a down payment on a new ladder truck. “If you want 24/7 police with three full-time officers, you have to make cuts somewhere else,” he said.
Mayor Curran said he was absorbing people’s comments and would get back to the people where he could.
The next for meeting will be Thursday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .