Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

Chatham mulls halting commercial development


CHATHAM–In a village with little space for building, the Village Board is considering putting a yearlong moratorium on commercial development.

The potential halt on future development is in response to a request for such action by former Trustee Lael Locke, who is heading a commission tasked with revising the village comprehensive plan.

The village will hold a public hearing on June 13 to consider the issue. If the board agrees to the moratorium, adoption of a local law imposing it would be subject to a permissive referendum if village residents petition for a public vote within 60 days.

“Our concern is not that we deter commercial development but that we guide it,” Ms. Locke said at a May 23 Village Board meeting.

While Ms. Locke acknowledged that there is little space left for commercial development, there are some sensitive areas in a comprehensive plan “that hasn’t been reviewed in 15 years.”

Ms. Locke said the commission was just beginning the process or reviewing the plan and suggesting changes.

Aaron Gaylord, a commission member and current member of village Planning Board member, said there are no proposals for commercial development presently on the Planning Board’s docket.

Ms. Locke told the Village Board that the review of the comprehensive plan “is a laborious process” and that she is “hopeful we can do this in a year.”

Village Attorney Alex Betke said such moratoriums are common; they prevent commercial developers from rushing to get a plan in before the commission completes its review.

Comprehensive plans set general guidelines and goals for development and municipalities like the village must amend their zoning laws and other ordinances to address issues raised in the plan.

The moratorium would not affect residential development, according to Village Mayor Tom Curran. And because the exact wording of the moratorium has yet to be drafted officials cannot yet say how the moratorium would affect commercial properties like the now-vacant building that previously housed Blue Seal Feeds.

The moratorium would not affect any plans already approved by the village Planning Board.



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