Chatham village adopts updated zoning

CHATHAM–The Village Board has approved an updated zoning code. Monday, Mayor John Howe and Trustees Lenore Packet and Melony Spock voted in favor of Local Law #2 of 2019 to amend the zoning code of the Village of Chatham. Trustee Pete Minahan voted against. Trustee Jaimee Boehme was not at the meeting.

The board held a public hearing before the regular meeting November 4 with little comment on the updated zoning code. Three residents attended the hearing.

During the regular meeting the board went through the state environmental review (SEQRA). The board made no comments when passing the new law and Mr. Minahan did not comment on why he voted against the zoning updates.

The village Comprehensive Plan was updated in 2015. The board then formed a committee to review the village’s zoning code to make sure it was in line with the updated Comprehensive Plan. As one member of the committee, Lael Locke, explained at a public hearing in September, the Comprehensive Plan is a road map for the future development in the village. “Zoning is what puts the teeth” in the plan, she said.

The committee developed a new zoning map for the village, new and/or updated definitions in the code and a new use table. The committee presented the board with a proposed new zoning law about two years ago. A public hearing was held in 2017 and the village attorney then reviewed the proposed law and made suggestions, but the board at the time did not vote to adopt the new zoning into law.

Mayor Howe, who was elected in March, made passing the updated zoning code a priority. The board held two more public hearings and other workshop meetings about the changes to the zoning code before passing it on Monday. The law was also reviewed by the county Planning Board, as well as the village’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

The updates to the zoning code can be found on the village website, www.villageofchatham.com.

The changes do not include any language on short-term rentals, like the ones offered on the Airbnb website. The Town of Chatham, which has separate zoning laws from the Village of Chatham, has been dealing with that issue in the proposed new zoning law for the town. The town zoning law does not affect properties in the village.

Also at the meeting, the board moved the date of village Planning Board meetings to the fourth Monday of the month. The Planning Board was meeting on the third Monday. It became an issue when the village Planning Board had to refer projects to the county Planning Board for review. The county board meets on third Tuesday of the month so applicants had to wait at least a month before projects could be reviewed by the county board and returned to the village Planning Board for approval.

The board also discussed the sidewalks along Park Row and Depot Square, which were dug up due to work on the buildings along those streets. The owner of the several of the buildings on Depot Square and Park Row, Jack Shear, requested that the village provide separate water lines to each of the buildings, including a movie theater that will be built facing Depot Square. According the DPW report presented to the Village Board, the village will supply the pipes and Mr. Shear’s crew “will install the main and blacktop repair the parking lot after it is finished.” The board approved purchasing the pipe during the meeting for $4,617.

Mayor Howe said of the sidewalks, which Mr. Shear’s crew are working on, “looks like they are going to be pouring concrete in the next day or two.”

Also at the meeting:

• The board approved moving funds in the budget to pay for a third-party cleaning service for the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall. Mayor Howe said it should save the village about $6,000 a year in cleaning costs

• The board approved closing Park Row, Main Street, Kinderhook Street, Shore Road, Eaton Avenue and Woodbridge Avenue on Thanksgiving Day (November 28) from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for the Ray Barbuti Turkey Trot

• Mayor Howe said he wanted to discuss at the next village meeting reducing the penalty on late water and sewer bills from 10% after 30 days to 2%. And removing the shut-off fee of $50 when a bill is unpaid and a property has its water turned off. He told the board that the funds from late fees are not budgeted for and “that shouldn’t be a revenue source” for the village. He said that they are penalizing people who are already “having trouble making their bills.”

The next board meeting will be Monday, December 9 at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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