Chatham village not quite ready to lift build ban

CHATHAM–The Village Board has agreed to adopt a new law that would once again extend the moratorium on most types of commercial and industrial construction for an additional six months. But the board wants language in the new law that allows for an earlier end to the moratorium if zoning revisions are put in place before next April.

A committee appointed by the board has been has been working since last year on updates to the village zoning law. While the committee has been at work, the Village Board imposed a moratorium on all new commercial development applications. Mayor Tom Curran said after the meeting that the original moratorium lasted six months and earlier this year was extended by six months.

Zoning Committee Chairwoman Lael Locke told board members Thursday, August 25 that the committee has been meeting weekly and she expects to complete the proposed changes to commercial zoning well before a new six-month extension expires.

Phil Persinger, an architect who works in Chatham and a member of the zoning committee, said that succeeding layers of changes previously made to the zoning law had turned parts of the document into “gibberish.” He also said that the current law does not clearly define the jobs of the building inspector and code enforcement officer or specify whether one person may hold both positions.

Board members said they wanted language in the new extension law that would allow them to end the moratorium as soon as they approve the proposed changes. They agreed to hold a hearing on a law to extend the moratorium at the September meeting.

Ms. Locke said there are no applications for commercial projects in the village currently pending.

Also at the meeting the board:

• Awarded the contract for the new fire company pumper truck to Garrison Fire & Rescue, a company in Palenville, Greene County. The truck, a demonstration model, is currently with a fire department in Canada. It will return to the US this fall. The truck will cost $383,116, considerably less than some original estimates.

The vote authorizing the purchase was unanimous, with Trustee Lenore Packet absent. She sent an email read at the meeting saying that she supported the purchase.

Mayor Curran and Trustee Jay Rippel thanked the committee for its work on obtaining the truck.

“We did it the right way,” said former village Fire Chief and committee chairman John Howe

• Authorized the Chatham Fire Department to pursue plans for an electronic sign on the lawn facing Hudson Avenue and Hoffman Street. The new sign would replace a mechanical lighted sign that was blow down and damaged by a wind gust last winter.

The fire company is not asking the village to contribute to the sign, estimated to cost around $20,000.

Dave Chapman who presented “conceptual drawings” of what the sign might look like, said he expected it to be smaller than the old sign but closer to Hudson Avenue. He said it would be purchased with funds from a small grant obtained through Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin’s office and local fundraising.

Mr. Chapman compared the sign the fire company has in mind to the digital message board in front of the Questar III/BOCES training facility on Route 66 in Greenport.

The mayor said that the village zoning does not permit “moving signs” that display a series of changing digital images. He also said that the sign might be subject to limits on the hours of operation.

“We’ll live within some rules,” Mr. Chapman said

• Approved the suspension of the village Alcoholic Beverages Law for the Octoberfeast outdoor event October 1.

The next meeting of the Village Board is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, September 8 at the Tracy Memorial Village Hall on Main Street.

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