CHATHAM -- The proposal to build a new Price Chopper supermarket on the empty lot adjacent to its current location advanced through village government this month without gaining final approval, which could take another two months or more.
After failing to reach an agreement at the November Village Board meeting, Price Chopper and the market's developer revised their proposal to connect the new store to Chatham’s water and sewer systems. At the December 13 Village Board meeting, representatives from Price Chopper and the development company agreed to drop pending litigation against the village as long as the Planning Board approves the proposal.
The sticking point in the negotiation process last month had been a debate over whether, after a 40-year initial payment period for the water and sewer connection, Price Chopper would be guaranteed further access to those services. This month Price Chopper asked only that the market be considered as a water and sewer service customer on a year-to-year basis after the initial 40 years.
Much of negotiation sessions over the water and sewer were held in executive session, between the board and their lawyer, Christine Chale from the Hudson firm Rapport Meyers LLP.
Five days after the Village Board meeting Price Chopper representatives appeared at the December 18 meeting of the village Planning Board and presented the details of the proposed new building at a public hearing.
Prior to the hearing, the Planning Board's special attorney for the Price Chopper project, Cheryl Roberts, also from Rapport Meyers, reminded board members that their purpose was to focus specifically on the effect of the new building on Chatham and to “assume no environmental impact.”
Most of the lot where the new store would be built lies in the Town of Ghent, and the Ghent Planning Board ruled earlier this year that the project meets state environmental standards.
At the Chatham Planning Board meeting last week Price Chopper representatives presented many of the same renderings seen at previous meetings, adding depictions of what the store will initially look like during the winter months, when the landscaping around the building is new and less full.
During the presentation members of the board expressed concern that while the renderings showed dense vegetation around the building, the actual site may end up looking different.
Price Chopper lawyer Peter Lynch said it would be “agreeable” to including a clause in any authorization of the project that makes Price Chopper responsible for maintaining the landscaping as the company has shown it in three-dimensional models.
Price Chopper representatives also discussed the store’s lighting and parking lot. The store would be open 24 hours per day, so there would always be some lighting of the lot and store, but perimeter lights would be turned off after 11 p.m.
During the hearing some audience members questioned the need for a larger store. The new market would have 45,000 square feet of floor space, almost double the size of the Price Chopper in the Chatham Plaza.
Representatives from The Hampshire Companies, which owns Chatham Plaza, were present at the Planning Board meeting and attempted to dissuade the board from approving the project. Engineer Doug Clark, who works with the Hampshire Companies, said an already-approved plan that would allow the expansion of the Chatham Plaza space the Price Chopper market currently occupies is a more sensible option for the market than moving.
Approval of the proposal by Ghent involved creation of a subdivision, and attorney Bill Better, also with The Hampshire Companies, challenged the manner in which Ghent established the subdivision of land where the new market would be built.
Following the hearing, the board opted not to vote on final approval of the plan until its next meeting, or possibly later. It has 62 days following the public hearing to make a decision.