CHATHAM – The village Planning Board reviewed the state environmental review for the proposed expansion of the Chatham Plaza on Route 66 with special council Cheryl Roberts and village engineer Pat Prendergast at the board’s regular meeting Monday, March 26.
Representatives from Hampshire Company, the corporation that owns the plaza, came to the Planning Board last month with specifics about how the company expects to expand the space in the plaza that currently houses the Price Chopper supermarket from 23,000 square feet to about 43,000 square feet. The company plans to move some of the stores in the plaza to different storefronts and decrease the number the retail spaces.
Most of the expansion would be at the back of the plaza.
Ms. Roberts suggested that if Hampshire receives approval for the construction, the Planning Board should require more landscaping in the front of the building to make the mall less visible from the village. “If you can screen it and make it better, that’s a good thing,” she said of plantings in the front.
Neither board members nor others at the meeting raised major concerns about the environmental impact of the proposed changes.
Doug Clark, the engineer for Hampshire, did talk with board members about drainage at the site. Mr. Prendergast said that Mr. Clark’s new drainage plan would mitigate any issues caused by a larger store.
Ms. Roberts said that the village comprehensive plan discouraged the construction of strip malls, a point addressed in the environmental review’s question about atheistic resources. Though she said the review would consider the proposed expansion a small impact, the change would affect the village.
Board member Steven Piazza said that the comprehensive plan included the part about strip malls because the plaza was built 14 years ago. He questioned the impact on the residents who live in the apartments behind the plaza, but said that they already deal with living behind the store.
The public hearing for the site plan remains open, and villagers who attended the meeting were allowed to comment on the plan. Lenore Packet, a newly elected village trustee, said she hopes to see bike racks at the new store.
“Keep in mind… we don’t need a million signs,” she said. Ms. Packet lives on Payn Avenue and said she can see the Price Chopper sign reflected in her neighbor’s window.
Price Chopper hopes to build a new 45,000 square foot store next to the plaza on Route 66 in the Town of Ghent, with a small section of new store in the village. Representatives from Price Chopper have been meeting with the Ghent Planning Board for about three years to get the approvals for the new building.
In the meantime, Hampshire will come back to the Planning Board Monday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. to present site plans for the expanded building that may include changes based on comments made by the public.
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