Unequal charges vex village

CHATHAM – The Village Board has passed a motion to forgive last quarter’s sewer bills for residents on Harmon Heights Road. Residents on the village street have been paying four times the base rate for sewer service for several years. The board is going to review the rates before setting a new rate for the residents, who don’t use village water but do use the municipal sewer system.

“We can’t find any reason at all,” Village Clerk Barbara Henry said at the board’s regular meeting on May 14, during the discussion about why the seven houses on Harmon Heights Road pay $94 a quarter for sewer service. The minimum use charge elsewhere in the village is $21. The board will look into how to charge the residents, since sewer use is calculated based on water usage and the residents in question use a shared well and not village water.

On the subject of water, the board also talked about bids for painting and patching the village water tower. The board received two bids: $287,000 and $356,000. Trustee Mike Wollowitz said that Village Engineer Pat Prendergast is looking it the details of the bids. The board will continue the discussion at the next meeting.

Mayor Tom Curran also talked about traffic on Woodbridge Avenue in front of the Middle School and the driveway leading to the elementary and high school campus. A Chatham police officer who was directing traffic in the morning last week suffered minor injuries when he was hit by a car on Woodbridge.

“I’ve witnessed so many close calls,” said Mayor Curran of drivers in the intersection. He pointed out that a lot of people stop on the train tracks, causing back-ups. Trustee Jay Rippel talked about children darting into traffic after being dropped off by their parents on the opposite side of Woodbridge. Mayor Curran also said that there is no stop sign at the end of the school’s driveway where it meets Woodbridge Avenue.

Mayor Curran said he planned to talk about the intersection with CSX, the railroad company that owns that train tracks running through the village. “The problem is there is so much car traffic,” the mayor said. Besides the train company, he said he is working with the school district to see if anything can be done.

Another traffic issue village officials addressed at the meeting was parking tickets. Village police officers have been ticketing people who are parking longer than two hours during the day on Main Street and the south side of Park Row.

The mayor said he wanted the parking law posted on the website and more clearly stated to the public.

Ms. Henry said village codes are on the website. She also said, “Many people are paying their tickets.” And she said one person paying a ticket actually thanked the village for enforcing the parking laws.

The village received a letter from some employees and business owners on Park Row asking for parking tickets to be forgiven, since they were not given adequate notice of the ticketing. Mayor Curran said there were warnings posted, though he didn’t know how many were placed on Park Row.

“If we haven’t enforced it in the past, they’ve gotten a free ride,” said Trustee Rippel of the people parking longer than two hours on those streets.

A parking fine costs $10.

Ms. Henry said that businesses can pay for permit parking in the parking lot next to the village hall and next to Kinderhook Bank. Also, the north side of Park Row does not have a parking time limit.

In other business the board plans to hold a special meeting Thursday May 28 at 7 p.m. to hear two requests for variances on commercial construction projects in the village, which has a six-month moratorium on new commercial construction. One of the projects would replace a building recently torn down on Depot Square and is for add six new buildings to house materials and equipment at the Herrington’s store, also on Depot Square.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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