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Take them to their leader… later

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GHENT — The Town of Ghent and the Village of Chatham planning boards postponed a public hearing scheduled for this week on the new Price Chopper supermarket proposal. The hearing was to be held at the regular Ghent Planning Board meeting Wednesday July 6.

Jonathan Walters, chairman of the Ghent Planning Board, said that the Chatham Planning Board requested lead agency status on the state environmental quality review, or SEQR. The SEQR is required by the state so that communities have a way of evaluating the environmental and economic impacts of proposed development projects.

In this case, though, the Ghent Planning Board disputes the designation of its counterpart in Chatham as lead agency for the review because, as Mr. Walters put it, “90% of the project is in Ghent.”

Charles Chisholm, a real estate representative for Price Chopper, said in a phone call about the canceled hearing, “Nothing has changed for us with the replacement store.” He said the company had to make changes to its application to the board and that is why the meeting was postponed. “We’ll be back in front of the Planning Board,” he said.

The proposed building would be built next door to the current Price Chopper just off Route 66 at the south end of the village. A small section of the parking lot for the new store would lie in the village, and Price Chopper hopes to hook-up to the village water system.

At the June 1 Ghent Planning Board meeting representatives from both boards met with Price Chopper officials to discuss the design plans, which have gone back and forth between the two boards, with trustees of the Village of Chatham also in the loop.

At the village Planning Board meeting June 20, the board heard from lawyers and an engineer representing the owners of the plaza that currently houses Price Chopper. They asked the company to consider expanding at the current site instead of moving next door in Ghent and depriving the village of revenues from taxes and water and sewer service fees. The plaza lawyers also urged the village planners to seek lead agency status after lawyers for Price Chopper requested the village give the town the lead agency status.

“We have no interest in being lead agency,” said Rick Georgeson, a regional public information officer at the DEC. He said in cases like this where a question arises over which municipality should act as lead agency,  the DEC prefers to have the municipalities to work it out between themselves. But Mr. Georgeson said the state the environmental commissioner would make a final decision if the town and village could not agree.

Mr. Georgeson said his agency is still working with Price Chopper on issues involving wetlands at the new site. Part of the proposed parking lot for the new building would be adjacent to a wetland. He said permits have not yet been issued.

Calls to the village of Chatham Planning Board were not returned by deadline.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com.

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