Chatham narrows open container options for Feast fest

CHATHAM–The Village Board has approved a brief suspension of the village open alcoholic container law during this Saturday’s village event called October Feast. But the board took a step back from a complete lifting of the law, as it was originally drafted, and instead confined its impact to a roped-off section of the municipal parking lot on Main Street.

October Feast, sponsored and organized by the Chatham Area Business Alliance, has been planned as a family event with a magic show for children, a cooking contest and food from local restaurants. It is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. October 1.

Event organizers have not asked the village to block off Main Street to vehicle traffic but Chatham Brewing, a brewery that also serves food, did request that the village waive the local law that makes it illegal to have an open alcoholic beverage on any public property in the village. The board agreed in principle to grant the waiver at a previous meeting, but at last Thursday’s Village Board meeting trustees had some second thoughts about the scope of the decision.

“With the road being open,” said Trustee Lenore Packet, referring to Main Street, “it seems safer to me to have a roped off area,” where open containers would be legal. The parking lot, where the roped-off area will be set up, is adjacent to the brewery, and adults could either purchase a beer there or bring their own, unopened alcoholic beverage to the lot and consume it on site.

Village Attorney Ken Dow was not at the September 22 board meeting, but the board discussed the impact of the plan on village restaurants, with Tom Crowell of Chatham Brewing saying that the state requires businesses that serve alcohol to have a special license if the alcohol is served outside on the premises of the business. The state does not have an open container law that applies to pedestrians.

The result of the discussion was unanimous adoption of an amended one-day waiver to the village Open Container Law that applies only to a “designated area” of the municipal parking lot. The motion also says the waiver will run 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., allowing an extra half hour after the official end of the event for those in the designated area to empty or otherwise dispose of their open containers.

In other business at the September 22 meeting:
• The board scheduled a public hearing on a local law that would extend the moratorium on “certain types of development” in the village for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 13.
“We are very close to getting our zoning done and approved,” Mayor Tom Curran told the board. A committee is revising the zoning law so that it conforms to goals and principles spelled out in the village Comprehensive Plan
• Mayor Curran reported that crews would begin pouring concrete for the new sidewalk on the west side of Woodbridge Avenue this week
• The mayor reported attending a meeting with the ad hoc committee of the village and the Town of Chatham to discuss sharing space at the Tracy Memorial Village Hall, which houses village government and the Chatham Village Police Department and the Town Court.

“It’s really a discussion how both municipalities might work together,” said Mayor Curran, who said members of committee who represent the Town of Chatham were going to “put together some ideas.”
Trustee Packet reminded the board that the board had to keep in mind that half the village lays in the Town of Ghent.
The next Village Board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, October 13 at the Tracy Memorial.

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