Village waives moratorium, agreeing to hardship plea

CHATHAM–The Village Board last week granted a hardship waiver of its moratorium on commercial construction. The decision allows Ed Herrington, Inc. to bring plans for six outbuildings that would shelter building materials at its Depot Square store to the village Planning Board for review.

Also at the Thursday, June 11 meeting the board tabled the other request for a waiver of the moratorium submitted by Jack Shear. He has asked for permission to build an addition on a building next door to the Herrington’s store. But Mayor Tom Curran said the board needed to review the moratorium language before voting on a waiver for the addition.

Board members did discuss the size of both the projects and whether they need to change the language in the moratorium, which affects all new commercial project proposals in the village. The moratorium was adopted to give the board time to review the draft of a new Comprehensive Plan and consider what, if any, zoning law changes a new plan might trigger.

Mayor Curran said that Herrington’s had proved its argument that having to postpone construction of the storage buildings until the moratorium expires this fall was a hardship for the business.

“It’s a big project,” said Trustee Mike Wollowitz of the sheds, which would be about 32′ high and placed behind the store in the lot that now has lumber and other materials stacked in the open. He also questioned whether the company could wait until the moratorium expires, expressing concern that granting this request would open the board up to other projects requesting waivers before zoning laws can be reviewed.

“I don’t think that area is going to change,” Mayor Curran said of possible zoning law updates affecting that part of the village.

“The biggest thing is that it’s a hardship for them and they’ve explained that very well,” he told the board. The mayor and Trustees Lenore Packet and Adrienne Morrell voted for the waiver. Mr. Wollowitz abstained. Trustee Jay Rippel was absent.

The plans will now go to the Planning Board for review under the current zoning laws. The Planning Board must approve a permit before construction can start.

Also at the June 11 meeting:

  • The board addressed correspondences from several residents about a smell coming from the village wastewater treatment plant. A report to the board from Philip Genovese, the sewer plant operator, said that the smell is coming from the digesters, which need to aerated. He wrote in the report, “I don’t want anyone to worry that the biological condition of the plant is in any danger.” He explained in the report that since the plant was upgraded recently it is more efficient and captures everything that comes into it. “I’ve been having to send more waste to the digesters then we normally used too,” he wrote.

In the report Mr. Genovese said that he is working on ways to eliminate the smell, which he said lasts only a couple of hours at a time

  • The board addressed the need for several businesses in the village, including the school district buildings and funeral homes, to add “backwater flow preventers” due to state and county regulations. DPW water operator John Bartholomew said he would be talking to the big water users in the village about having the equipment insulted at their own cost
  • The board accepted the bid to repaint and coat the village water tower at a cost of $287,000. The board also agreed to research outside sources of funding for the project
  • The meeting started with a public hearing on an existing law banning pit bulls in the village. The board later repealed the law. Mayor Curran said it is illegal to single out and ban one kind of dog
  • The board also held a public hearing on a local law to establish a handicap parking space on Main Street. The board approved the law and will create the space on the southeast side of Route 66 near the corner of Main Street and Park Row
  • The board appointed Chief Peter Volkmann permanent part-time police chief. In his report Chief Volkmann said that body cameras for village police officers have arrived and will be in use soon. He said that Chatham was the only police force in the county to have both car and body cameras for the officers.

The next village meeting is Thursday, July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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