09-24-11 - A prolonged campaign to turnout opposition to the Price Chopper store apparently worked on Monday at the Tracy Memorial Hall as speaker after speaker took aim for over two hours at the Ghent and Chatham Village planning boards over the proposed new Price Chopper store.
Residents of Chatham and Ghent lined up at the public hearing to express concern that the proposed 45,000-square-foot new grocery store would hurt business in the village, as well as the existing plaza, and endanger youth by increasing traffic and even lead to the wasting of more food. The hearing was conducted as part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review of the project.
First proposed in 2009, the store would be constructed just to the south of the existing store. The store would largely be located in the town of Ghent, though a small section would fall into the village’s auspices. The Ghent Planning Board has been declared lead agency in the review of the project; Monday’s hearing included the village planning board and the Ghent Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The latter is being asked to make determinations on the project.
While the state Route 66 property the store is being proposed for is zoned commercial, that didn’t stop the opponents from assailing the project.
Of the approximately 30 speakers who addressed the boards, Planning Board Chairman Jonathan Walters said only one spoke in favor of the plan.
That person, a resident of Ghent, told planners, “People are talking about this as a monstrosity (the proposed new store), but the only monstrosity I see is the plaza.”
The planned new Price Chopper has quietly grown into a confrontational issue in the town and village.
Opponents, including the owner of the plaza the store currently resides in - Hampshire Companies –claim moving the store to an adjoining property will hurt the businesses in the existing plaza, hurt businesses in the village proper, increase traffic and endanger youth and others who walk and ride bicycles in the vicinity of the plaza.
Walters even quoted one opponent as telling the boards Monday that Price Chopper throws away too much food and a larger store would just allow more food to be wasted.
Meanwhile, officials with Golub Corp., the parent company of Price Chopper, say a new store is necessary to provide more options to residents of the community and to allow for necessary upgrades.
No formal decision was taken by the boards following the hearing.
Walters said his panel needs more information on the water retention efforts for the site of the new store, which is in a “wet” area.
“The way they are designing this is that, in theory, less water will be coming off that site under the new plan – they have detention ponds for the parking lot and for Fairpoint – so they are pretty much meeting the legal standard of don’t make it worse, but I need to know from our engineer if that adds up,” he said.
Written comments on the SEQRA review of the project will be accepted through the end of the month, Walters said.