Chatham wants funds in bank ahead of project reviews

CHATHAM – The Town Board passed a motion last week to create escrow accounts for funds from applicants submitting plans for the Planning Board to review.

Newly appointed Town Attorney Sal Ferlazzo said that creating the accounts was already in the town code but this motion would set the amounts for deposits from applicants at $1,500 for plans requiring engineering review and $1,000 for legal expenses. He emphasized money not spent for those purposes during the application process would be refunded and that the amounts do not amount to an application fee. Instead, he said, the money was a way for the town to cover the costs that arise during the Planning Board review process.

At the June 16 meeting, Mr. Ferlazzo said other municipalities he works with set up these kinds of accounts. “This is just an implementation of what your local law says,” he told the board, referring to the current town zoning law.

The Town Board also set a public hearing for its next meeting to consider changes to the zoning law saying that applicants would receive notice of the escrow account requirements.

Mr. Ferlazzo said that the accounts would mean an additional auditing function for the board so the town could keep track of funds in the accounts. He said changing the zoning law means that an applicant to the Planning Board could appeal to the board if the applicant believes that money was spent incorrectly.

Mr. Ferlazzo also said that the Planning Board could waive the requirement for these deposits if the project is very small with little need for engineering or legal expenses.

The public hearing on amending the local law will be held Thursday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall.

Also at the June 16 meeting:

• The Children’s Gardening program at Crellin Park will happen this summer, according to Town Clerk and Crellin Foundation Board member Beth Anne Rippel. The program takes place during the day camp sponsored by the town but has never been funded by the town. The foundation had received grants and private support for the program. Ms. Rippel said that this year the foundation’s grant money was cut, leaving the organization $1,500 short. The program will go forward with less pay for the program director. She said anyone may donate to the program online at

Councilman Henry Swartz suggested putting the donation information on the town’s new Facebook page

• Mr. Swartz said that the Crellin Camp program had to accept fewer children this year due to budget cuts and that parents could not register their children after the first day. He said this year the program is accepting 75 kids at the camp and last year it was 100. “Hopefully we can get that up next year,” he said

• Supervisor Maria Lull said the basketball courts were repaved at Crellin by town employees and that the tennis courts were temporally repaired. New swings will be installed by town workers.

The supervisor suggested the board look into a new sign for Crellin. “The sign just looks really shabby,” said Ms. Lull. She suggested the board seek quotes on a new sign.

Mr. Swartz suggested they find an organization that would donate a sign.

“I know we need a sign, but I also know that the Children’s Garden is $1,500,” said Councilwoman Landra Haber

• Mr. Swartz asked to have the town’s accounting firm attend a meeting to explain where the town’s budget is in deficit. He had questions about where the reports the on bond anticipation notes are listed. “I think we really need to spell out where the deficit is,” he said of review the accounting reports.

The next Town Board meeting is Thursday, July 21 at 7 p.m. The public hearing will be held at 6:30 that night.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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