Chatham buys more time for dirt-road zoning

CHATHAM–The Town Board has approved extending the 12-month moratorium on new construction along unpaved roads, giving the board more time to review proposed changes to the town zoning laws suggested by the Zoning Implementation Committee (ZIC). The original year-long moratorium was adopted in February 2015.

At the March 17 meeting Henry Swartz was the only board member who voted against extending the moratorium, pointing out that currently there are no projects being reviewed by the Planning Board that propose building along a dirt road in the town. “I don’t think we need another layer of this,” he said.

Councilwoman Landra Haber said that she hoped the zoning review process “will not take 12 months.”

As soon as zoning changes are adopted by the board the board can lift the moratorium.

Councilman Bob Balcom reported that the consultant the town hired to compile the changes proposed by the ZIC would be ready to present that information to the board at the April 7 workshop meeting.

The changes recommended by the ZIC are supposed to reflect the goals and principles in the town Comprehensive Plan. The final step in the process is for the Town Board to pass a new local law that adopts the changes.

The board also discussed the plan to install a traffic light on the one-lane Albany Turnpike bridge in East Chatham. Tom Baird, a representative from Barton and Loguidice, the engineering firm working on the project, said that his firm’s part of the project would start soon and that the plan is to have “everything finished off by the summer.” The firm needs to do a traffic study and report back to the state.

The plan calls for a sensor light on the bridge and reconfiguring the intersection of Albany Turnpike with state Route 295 into a “T.”

The total cost of the project would be about $180,000, according to Mr. Baird, with $75,000 of that paying for road upgrades and the rest for the light system. State Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd) secured a $100,000 grant for the light and the town now must come up with the balance of the funding.

The board discussed having a May workshop meeting in East Chatham to review the plans with community members.

Also at the meeting:

• The board hired Michael West to be recreation director for the summer program at Crellin Park from March through October 2016 a salary of $16,500. “We had a bunch of outstanding candidates for this position,” said Councilman John Wapner, a member of the Recreation Committee, which interviewed candidates

• The board asked Town Engineer Pat Prendergast to test water at Crellin Park and other spots in town for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The testing would cost about $500 a sample. “Crellin, I think, is essential,” Ms. Haber said of the testing.

“It’s not a bad idea,” Mr. Prendergast said, since the chemical can seep into the water from several sources. PFOA is the suspected carcinogenic chemical that has polluted water in at least two communities in neighboring Rensselaer County, including Hoosick Falls

• The board has changed titles of some town employees to bring their job titles in compliance with county civil service laws

• There will be a joint meeting with the Village of Chatham and land use specialist Carl Ublacker April 14 at 6 p.m. to discuss the future use of the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall

• Planning Board Chair Marilyn Cohen addressed the board on several issues during the public comment period of the meeting, including the process for picking the newest member of the Planning Board. She said the Town Board did not take the Planning Board’s recommendation for the post into consideration. She also expressed concern that the board has voted on motions at workshop meetings rather than at regular monthly meetings.

The next regular Town Board meeting will be Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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