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Troopers, Chatham ink land deal for new barracks

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CHATHAM – The Town Board passed a motion last week that finalizes the transfer of about 3 acres of town land to the State Police for a barracks next to the Town Hall on state Route 295.

In 2018 the board was approached by the state troopers, who asked for the land to be donated by the town so the police could move their barracks from New Lebanon to Chatham to serve the north end of the county.

At the Thursday, September 19 town meeting State Police Captain Harold Litardo said that the barracks, which will not be completed until about 2022, will house 25 to 30 officers. “It’s a long process,” he said of building the barracks.

Pictured (l-r, standing) are Chatham Town Councilman Bob Balcom, Councilman Kevin Weldon, Town Attorney Sal Ferlazzo, Councilman Michael Richardson, Councilman John Wapner, Zoning Board Chair Daniel Persing, Planning Board Chair Gabriella Sperry; (seated) NYS Police Captain Harold Litardo and Town Supervisor Maria Lull signing the deed transferring town property to the State Police for a new barracks. Photo contributed

Town Supervisor Maria Lull told the captain, “We are anxious to have you.” She thanked the chairs of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board for their work on the process. Captain Litardo also thanked those boards and he thanked the Town Board for the donation of the land.

At the meeting the board authorized the documents required to complete the donation, including a deed and tax forms needed for the transfer to the Division of State Police.

In a press release from the town after the meeting, the town said “the State Police will build a modern, purpose-built law enforcement facility in the Town of Chatham that will meet the needs of the public and the State Police in terms of parking, building access and efficiency of operations. The future barracks will be one-story, slab-on-grade and approximately 5,000 square feet in area.”

Also at the meeting the board approved hiring a company to survey the 100 acres the town owns around the Town Hall so the board can determine the value of the town’s assets.

In another action, the board authorized the creation a Comprehensive Plan Update Committee. The town’s Comprehensive Plan was last updated in 2009. Using that 2009 plan, the board has been updating the town zoning law, a process first assigned to a Zoning Implementation Committee, then a Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee with help from the Town Planner Nan Stolzenburg. Now the members of the Town Board are going through the proposed zoning updates based on their concerns and the concerns of local citizens.

The board has not yet voted on the zoning proposals. At the meeting last week, the board finished going through the updates and the plan will now be reviewed by the town planner and town attorney for land use; it will then be posted online so that residents can comment on it. There will be another question and answer session October 8 at 6 p.m. with two board members. Councilman Michael Richardson said the board scheduled the October 8 Q&A session to give the board and the public at least a week to review the changes.

Councilman Bob Balcom, in response to a question from an audience member, said that changes in the new version of the proposed law would be a “red line” copy.

One of the biggest changes the board made at the September 19 meeting was to increase the number of days per year that a property owner may rent out his or her home without facing new regulations on short-term rentals. The limit was expanded from 30 days to 44 days, and it applies to both full-time and part-time residents.

Mr. Richardson said the 44-day limit should discourage people wanting to buy investment homes in the town that they will never live in and will only rent out on a short-term basis.

Short-term rentals, like the ones offered on the website Airbnb, have been a big issue for residents when discussing the new proposed law. The town plans to regulate short-term rentals in the proposed law by having residents register with the town and depending on how many rooms they are renting out on a short-term basis (fewer than 30 days consecutively). Those owners would need to go through different steps with the building inspector and possibly have a site plan review by the Planning Board. There is a FAQ section the town’s website about the issue at www.chathamnewyork.us.

The board worked through other zoning issues at the meeting including setbacks for padding and manure piles on a property and the EPOD (Environmental Protection Overlay District) rules.

The board plans to post all the questions asked by residents and the notes taken on the proposed zoning law online, and they said the board should have a new document to review and post from the attorney in a week.

As for the Comprehensive Plan Committee, the board is looking for residents who are interested in sitting on that volunteer group. Applicants can submit their names to the board for consideration. The resolution the board passed approving formation of the committee says that New York Town Law defines a comprehensive plan as a document that will ‘identify the goals and objectives, principles, guidelines, policies, standards, devices and instruments for the immediate and long-range protections, enhancement, growth and development” of a town.

The next town board meeting is October 17 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com

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