Village Planning Board flexes its new muscle

CHATHAM–With a new village building inspector on the job, the village Planning Board met last week to resolve outstanding enforcement issues. The first cases discussed at the August 19 meeting involved Zvi Cohen, who added a deck to his new Our Daily Bread restaurant and bakery on Hudson Avenue/Route 66. Mr. Cohen also constructed a permanent cover over the deck at Destino, his restaurant next door. He added both the deck and the roof before obtaining permits for the projects from the village.

Village Building Inspector Walt Simonsmeier answered questions from Planning Board members at the meeting and said he had met with Mr. Cohen to discuss the approvals he would need.

The village recently hired Mr. Simonsmeier to replace long-time Building Inspector Stanley Koloski. Police Chief Kevin Boehme, who retired in June, served as village code enforcement officer. Board members said last month that they did not know who the new code enforcement officer is.

The three board members who attended the meeting–Chairman Dan Herrick was absent and the board is missing a fifth member–had not met Mr. Simonsmeier before and expressed gratitude that he was there to answer questions.

Planning Board member Stephen Piazza pointed out that during the board’s long negotiation with the Schulyer Company over the new Price Chopper supermarket, which needed board approval, an attorney for the board was present at Planning Board meetings to help answer legal questions.

Board members are requesting that the village attorney attend their next meeting with Mr. Cohen to answer legal questions about his projects. Mr. Simonsmeier said that Mr. Cohen was issued several tickets for moving forward with the projects without permits.

As the meeting continued, board members asked Mr. Cohen questions about the deck on Our Daily Bread, which he hopes to use for special events, Mr. Simonsmeier suggested board members meet with Mr. Cohen at the site and review the project.

Mr. Cohen will still have to come to the board for approvals on the work and discuss the permanent covering over the deck at Destino. Mr. Simonsmeier assured the board that he would not grant Mr. Cohen a certificate of occupancy until all the issues with the board are met.

The board also allowed Louisa Greco, a Washington Avenue neighbor of Our Daily Bread, to voice her concerns about noise if Mr. Cohen opens the Our Daily Bread deck. Ms. Greco said she wanted the board to insist that Mr. Cohen construct a privacy fence between the deck and the houses next to it. “That is a fair request,” Mr. Cohen said.

The board also approved a new sign for the Govinda Yoga studio on Main Street and a garage door on the building that houses Chatham Brewing. The brewery plans to take over the whole space at 30 Main Street, and to get the large tanks in the building they need a bigger entrance. They also plan to add a bottling plant in the back space.

At the end of the meeting the board members said they would send a letter to the Village Board recommending appointment of Ernie Reis to the open position on the board.

The next Planning Board meeting will be Monday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.

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