Public Hearing: Short-Term Rental Law

The Chatham Town Board has finally come up with a proposed Short-Term Rental (STR) Law to vote on, and it is time for the Public Hearing. You can read and download the STR draft here. It’s short, sweet, and full of common sense.


Reminder: To those who may be new to our community and this issue, the last administration lost the election by a large margin because they attempted to drastically overreach on their proposed zoning laws. Our fellow citizens spoke loud and clear that we want our property owner rights to be respected.

The new administration created a STR Draft based on 2 years’ worth of public comments and concerns that respects both the rights of the property owners and also of their neighbors. The found a solid balance between the two that should satisfy the majority of our citizens.

The other purpose is to collect concrete data to understand how many STRs we have and if they really are the problem the past administration felt they were. Facts need to drive all potential laws, not unsubstantiated fear.

To make your life simpler, we copied and pasted the STR draft below. Unlike the last administration’s overreach, this one is reasonable and created for the purpose of protecting both property owners and their neighbors but also to gather factual data so our town can be fully informed on how many STRs actually exist and where they are.

Once the Town Board has factual data, they can determine if more stringent STR laws are needed. As any law, this STR Draft is fluid and will change as warranted. But we must start somewhere, and this draft is a very sensible start.

Bottom-line Proposed STR Law:

  • Permit is required
  • Occupancy limit
  • Parking plan (any on-street parking must abide by Town Code)
  • All STRs must have a designated local contact person
  • Must obey the noise laws in current Town Code
  • Fire safety recommendations (smoke and carbon-dioxide detectors, evacuation plan, emergency numbers, etc.)
  • “Good Neighbor Statement” shall be provided to each Visitor
  • Fines for violations of the Town Code and Federal/State laws
  • Revoking of permit if STR owner gives false information or violates the STR law

Write to the Town Board and/or Attend the Meeting!

Please attend the Public Hearing online, but if you cannot (and even if you can), please email the Town Board at chatham@chathamnewyork.us your thoughts on the STR Draft so your opinion can be part of the public record.

We will update this post with the link once it is provided by the Town Board, but you may also go to the Town of Chatham website to keep updated on all virtual meetings, which the Town Board has been conducting all throughout COVID lockdown.

Why do we need STRs?

Many of us have or will inherit our family homesteads. We all want a way to hang onto those cherished memories, while still being able to pay the tax bills and also come back to visit our beloved community. Plus, we need lodging for our extended families to stay in when they visit. There’s a reason we have no Motel 6 here. Because this area does not have gigantic lodging needs. STRs are a perfect solution to serve our community, our area businesses, and our lives.

What is Airbnb doing to prevent “party houses”?

Airbnb itself has cracked down on “party houses” with their new rules: “Open-invite parties and events are prohibited in Airbnb listings. This includes any party or event where the listing host has limited knowledge of the attendees, or that does not have a specific guest list, such as gatherings advertised on social media.”

Airbnb has also restricted anyone under 25 from renting a property near where they live, to further avoid the “party house” issue.

LOCAL LAW NO. 2 of the Year 2020

Be it enacted by the Town Board of the Town of Chatham as follows:

I. Purpose: The Town Board finds that it is in the interest of public health, safety
and welfare to regulate through a permitting process the use of short-term
rental lodging facilities occurring within the Town through the enactment o
the following Local Law.

II. Definitions: Below are definitions of terms utilized in this local law, as needed.
If any definition herein shall be inconsistent with any other section of the Town
Code and /or Zoning Law, the definition herein shall control.

Good Neighbor Statement – a Good Neighbor Statement is a leaflet that shall contain
pertinent information that will help STR Visitors understand the house and property they
are renting, the neighborhood they are in and relevant sections of the Chatham Town
Code. Such a leaflet should include such things as the boundaries of the property, and
reference to the Town Code on subjects such as noise, trash and parking.
Lodging Facility: Any hotel, motel, inn, bed and breakfast, dwelling, dwelling unit or
other establishment providing sleeping accommodations to visitors for compensation.

Short-Term Rental (STR): The rental of a dwelling, dwelling unit or other establishment
to a Visitor for less than thirty days. This definition specifically excludes hotels, motels,
bed and breakfasts and inns.

Short-Term Rental Local Contact Person: A Person that is the second contact for
Short-Term Rental issues. This person must live within twenty (20) miles of the Rental
he/she represents.

Visitor: A person visiting or residing in the Town of Chatham for less than thirty days.

Short-Term Rental Regulations:
A. No real property within the Town of Chatham shall be used or rented as a
Short-Term Rental without an annual Permit issued by the Town of Chatham Code
Enforcement Officer. Such Permit shall include, but is not limited to, the property
owner’s name, address, phone number, email address and contact person’s information
and the following:

  1. Permit fee of $100.00 annually.
  2. Permits issued for Short-Term Rentals shall be non-transferable and shall
    immediately expire upon any change of ownership of the premises. Any new
    owners must obtain a new permit prior to any rentals.
  3. Short-Term Rentals located outside of the Hamlet (H-1 and H-2) zones shall
    have a base occupancy allowance of up to 8 visitors unless there are more
    than four bedrooms. For each additional bedroom up to three, there may be 2
    additional visitors per bedroom. Short Term Rentals located within the Hamlet
    (H-1 and H-2) zones shall have a base occupancy of no more than 6 visitors.
  4. A depiction of the allowed parking on the premises.
  5. Short Term Rentals shall be allowed in all zoning Districts of the Town as
    defined in the Town of Chatham Zoning Law subject to the provisions of this
    local law.
  6. Every owner of a Short-Term Rental shall register for a permit within 120 days
    of the passage of this Short -Term Rental law and renew such permit no later
    than January 31 of each succeeding year.
  7. Short -Term Rentals located outside of the Hamlet (H-1 and H-2) zones shall
    be limited to two (2) STR’s per property, with only one STR unit permitted per
    structure. STR’s located within the Hamlet (H-1 and H-2) zones shall be
    limited to one (1) STR per property, with only one STR unit per structure.

B. In the event of an occurrence which requires intervention by the Town Code
Enforcement Officer or other official charged with enforcement of local laws within the
Town, the owner of the Short-Term Rental shall receive the first contact, not the contact
person. The owner is responsible for responding to any complaint or occurrence
requiring action involving an STR in a timely manner.
The owner is responsible for
responding to the service of any legal process and all other notices. If the owner is not
available or not able to take the required action in the appropriate time, the local contact
person will then be contacted. The Owner may designate the local contact as the initial
point of contact by written notification to the Town Code Enforcement Officer.

C. All Short-Term Rental Owners must maintain a local contact person. The owner
shall provide to the Town, at the time of Permit application and thereafter as necessary,
current contact information for the local contact person, including the name, address,
phone number, and email address. It shall be the responsibility of the owner to ensure
that the Town always has the most current contact information for the designated local
contact person.

D. Noise shall not exceed the limits prescribed in the Town Code.

E. Off-Street Parking shall be in accordance with the Town Code and as specifically
delineated in the Permit application and Permit.

F. All Short-Term Rentals shall comply with the following fire and safety
recommendations as applicable.

  1. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed and operational.
  2. Short-Term Rentals must have a 911 emergency number visible from the
  3. Short-Term Rental owners shall provide visitors with emergency lights, an
    evacuation plan with marked exits and a list of emergency numbers.

G. A copy of the Permit and the owner’s contact information shall be displayed in all

H. A “Good Neighbor Statement” shall be provided to each Visitor. The STR owner,
contact person or representative shall review this statement with Visitors to avoid
trespassing on private property and possible violations to the Town Code such as, noise,
parking and littering.

I. Fines or penalties.
When applicable, fines and penalties shall be imposed by the Town in accordance with
those set forth in the Town Code and applicable State or Federal laws. Failure to
comply with the Town Code may result in the forfeiture of the STR Permit. Failure to
provide current contact information for the owner or the local contact person, or the
provision of inaccurate information on the permit application may result in the forfeiture
of the STR permit.

J. Severability
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, word, section or part of this law shall be adjudged by
any court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such
judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be
confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, word, section or part
thereof, directly involved in the controversy in which said judgment shall have been

K. Effective Date.
This local law shall take effect immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State’s


Regionally, the misalignment between the economy and its demographics is of grave concern

Take some time to look at this report, OUT OF ALIGNMENT
– it’s a must-read for all, especially those who want to find ways for our younger generation to afford to stay!

“Regionally, the misalignment between the economy and its demographics is of grave concern. Overall population growth is essentially flat, and in many areas is declining, dramatically impacting school enrollment. The rapid decline in K-12 population impacts not just our schools, but the availability of a homegrown workforce. The data reflects that the region is getting older, and people are having fewer children than needed to replace the population. Young working-age people, if given the opportunity, leave to seek employment elsewhere, and if they stay, are postponing the formation of families due to the cost of living. Furthermore, high-paying jobs lost in the last two decades have made way for low-skill, low-wage jobs often resulting in workers having to hold down two jobs just to balance their budget.

The ramifications of these trends are alarming.”

Click here: https://www.hvoutofalignment.com/

Please read and share. You can also download the full 44-page Part 1 here.

We’ll keep checking back and share Part 2 when that is available, which will include some suggestions for improvements.

NEW LEADERSHIP Voted in to Stop the Oppressive Zoning!

By a landslide victory of, Donal Collins is our new Town Supervisor Elect, defeating Maria Lull by 2:1.

In another striking defeat, Vance Pitkin and Abi Mesick will step into the Town Councilmen seats, beating Michael Richardon and Gabriella Sperry again 2:1.

We are all so grateful for all of our citizens who spent countless hours reading the zoning laws, coming to meetings, sending us emails, and working hard to keep Chatham rural.

Now that the election is over, let’s all reach across the aisle and work together! Join committees and stay involved!

Congratulations, Chatham!

Donal Collins: 915
Maria Lull: 496
Richards Hallock: 30

Vance Pitkin: 930
Abi Mesick: 921
Michael Richardson: 509
Gabriella Sperry: 497

The Inability of the Town Board to Address the Needs of the Disabled

Everyone knows that getting up to the second floor courtroom of the Chatham Town Court is difficult even for able people. It is nearly impossible for persons with any form of disability. As a long-time defense lawyer in that court over nearly 20 years I have witnessed great efforts disabled people make to attend court. You have not seen anything until you see a disabled veteran going up those marble steps on his knees.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title II (1990) requires reasonable access be provided to all governmental activities. That requirement is nearly 30 years old. The Chatham Town Board clearly does not see this to be an important obligation for attention. Nothing has been done.

It is true that in 2015 the DeGroodt Board, with Maria Lull as a member, did have discussions with the Village, going to the point of getting construction estimates for various ways to provide an accessible courtroom. However, nothing has been done and the problem remains. Only recently a disabled woman who did get to the courtroom in the Tracy Hall could reportedly not get down to the first floor. She, it seems, had to be carried down by two court officers in a chair. Recently.  The problem remains, having been overtaken by such important matters as decibel levels, trash cans, and numbers of accessory buildings on property. Do these facts show that these Board members running for election Tuesday have our community interests at heart?

The ADA is not local law. Chatham must comply with it. It will take new and sympathetic blood on the Board to do so. I know this subject is on the minds of the candidates Collins, Pitkin, and Mesick. I recommend voting for them to rid our town of this scandal.

Bob Linville
Old Chatham

To All the Residents of Chatham

As we approach Election Day it is appropriate to consider what we have learned about the nature of the present Town Board and the three members seeking our continued support. Who they are and what their views are of the Town and us are now clear.

We have had considerable exposure to them, their dogged views of us, and the nature of the Town. Board members clearly regard our concerns about privacy, government intrusiveness into all aspects of life here, and the value of the Town as it is are wrong, outdated, and, resistant to a bright and better future.

Who Lull, Richardson, and Sperry are, and what they value, are embedded in the draft zoning plan they support. One cannot separate these three members from the features of the plan. To put it a little roughly “ the plan is them.” So, to set the plan aside they must be themselves set aside. They will never accept our oft-expressed outrage at so many of the plan’s terms.

The plan is an acknowledged  cobbleup of paragraphs from other smaller, tighter communities in this state and elsewhere. A more awkward cut- and- paste job cannot be easily be found. And it cost around $100,000 !  No wonder so many of us are outraged.

Back to the present board member candidates. It is clear they will continue to treat town citizens as they have, with ill-disguised impatience and no real response at all. Although they may live here and be a part of the community,  as elected officials they behave as though they only serve a small portion of that community. It is clear as day that they intend for Chatham to be another town entirely.

This means that if we want to preserve the rural nature of the Chatham we love, all three must be defeated Tuesday, and the three who are clearly Chatham people must be elected, for the ongoing welfare of us all. 

I hope and believe a large majority of our voters agree.

Vote for Donal Collins for Chatham Town Supervisor. Vote for Vance Pitkin and Abi Mesick for Chatham Town Council.

Bob Linville
Old Chatham, NY

Why is there so much resistance from the Board and their supporters?

I’ve been thinking about Van Calhoun’s level of rancor and it seems to me that some of the zoning recommendation committee members, and others who are on the Board feel they have done all this work, for all these years, have all this experience, and now who the hell are we, the inexperienced upstart ignorant rabble, to question the wisdom of what they have put together.  

Nevermind that the board members themselves acknowledged over 100 errors in the code.

The telling sentence in Van Calhoun’s recent diatribe, personally attacking Jeanne, for me is: “I watched them work through the problems of creating laws that our people needed but didn’t yet understand.”  It’s such a blatantly paternalistic statement that he knows better what We the People need, even if we don’t understand it.  

And then there’s “it certainly works on townspeople who do not search for the second sentence of a quote.”  Again he portrays an attitude that there are those who are fit to govern and then there are the townspeople.  

I think that is the same motivation that led Maria Lull to file the final draft with the County Planning Board before the changes were complete, and without telling the public.  They have humored us, put up with us, suffered us, and now they are just sick of us.  Van Calhoun thinks Donal, Abi and Vance are out of their depth and he “feels sorry” for them. Patronizing and downright bizarre.

I keep coming back to the code the Board was proud to pass on June 20th, until they acknowledged 100 plus anomalies in July.  The difference was the willingness of a number of ’ordinary’ citizens to read the proposed zoning – just read the thing and speak up about all the mistakes.  

No matter what the Election outcome, our town should be proud of what we have taken on.  This Board is out of line, and it’s time for We the People to put better representation in those seats.

They can’t keep resisting us if they aren’t running our town.

The only way to do that is to vote. There has never been a more important election in Chatham’s history.

Concerned Citizen
Old Chatham
November 1st

Chatham Residents Are For Reasonable Zoning, Not Restrictive Zoning

The Town Board didn’t listen to the residents — again. The Board continues to push ahead with a proposed zoning law that will severely restrict residents’ property rights, hurt local businesses and trades and discourage people from improving their land and the quality of their lives in our Town.

On September 30, 2019, the Town Board released and submitted for County review their latest version of the proposed zoning law. It contains just as many burdensome restrictions as the last version of the proposed law, which hundreds of residents rejected at a public meeting. Its contents make it clear that the Town Board is out of touch with the residents. 

Below are some examples of the onerous  zoning restrictions in the revised law which the Town Board plans to adopt after the election.

* The proposed zoning law now contains over 230 pages of incredibly detailed and weighty regulations which are single spaced with small print — nearly three times more lengthy than the law submitted by the original Zoning Implementation Committee (ZIC) to the Town Board at the end of 2015. These voluminous regulations are more appropriate for Westchester County or Long Island, not a rural town like Chatham. Why do we need so many regulations in our Town?

* The proposed zoning law mandates that 85% of residents’ land in the rural districts must be kept as open space.  (Section 180-32(C)(2)). Residents are not allowed to develop their property in any way if the open space drops below 85%.  So, if you live on a smaller lot with a driveway, house and a pool and you don’t have 85% open space now on your land, you can’t add a garden shed or gazebo. This constitutes a brazen taking of land by the Town Board. Why would the Town Board want such an onerous restriction in our rural Town?

* The proposed zoning law mandates that only 6% of residents’ land in the rural district can be covered by impervious surfaces (i.e., buildings, driveways, patios, etc.).  So, if you have a small lot with improvements now, you may exceed the 6% and may not be able to build anything else on your land.  Residents improving their land increases local taxes and make peoples’ lives better. Why does the Town Board want to severely restrict residents in this way? 

* The proposed zoning law makes it difficult for residents to put small accessory structures on their land (e.g., garden sheds, pools, gazebos, patios, etc.). For example, in the hamlet districts which have a broad range of parcel size and configurations, accessory structures are not allowed in the front yard between the street and the house. (Section 180-36(D)(7)). So,        residents with larger lots and long driveways can’t use the front of their land. Then, curiously, the section immediately following (Section 180-36(D)(8)) directly contradicts that rule.

* The proposed zoning law prohibits accessory structures located closer than thirty-five feet from your home. (Section 180-36(D)(6)). This prevents, for example, people from putting a woodshed close to their house so they don’t have to walk in the snow and rain to get wood for their fireplaces. Throughout the Town there are countless accessory structures close to homes. Why are they a problem now?

* The proposed zoning law prohibits residents from expanding their homes to add an accessory apartment for their elderly parents or family members.  (Section 180-36(C)(2)). Interestingly, the law allows home expansions for other uses, but not for in-law apartments. Why does the Town Board want to discourage this form of affordable housing for our families?

* The proposed zoning law requires residents to go through a site plan approval process with the Planning Board to build an accessory structure over 700 square feet, such as a pool with a deck or a 3-car garage, in the rural districts.  (Table 2, Section 180-36(E).  This expensive process will take months to complete.  Comically, the law allows homes to be built as large as 15,000 sf (Section 180-32(C)(2)) without site plan approval (Section 180-29(B)(1)) but requires it for a small garage. 

These pointless and onerous restrictions on residential land will increase the number of people seeking variances from the ZBA (through a lengthy and expensive review process) because they simply want to improve their land. It doesn’t make any sense. Other proposed zoning regulations don’t make any sense, either:

* The proposed zoning law imposes oppressive noise regulations which curtail people’s enjoyment of their land.  Section 180-58(DD) states for swimming pools that “human voices shall not be objectionable to the occupants of any neighboring property.”  So, kids having fun in a pool and making noise in the summer would be in violation of the zoning if a disgruntled neighbor found it objectionable. This zoning restriction is illegal because it gives your neighbor control over your land. Is this what we want for our Town — zoning that pits neighbor against neighbor? 

* The proposed zoning law prohibits commercial lawn mowers from mowing residents’ lawns before noon on Sundays.  (Section 180-49(B)(8)).  However, residents are allowed to mow their own lawns before noon; they just can’t use a commercial landscaper. Why does the Town Board care when landscapers mow peoples’ lawns? 

* The proposed zoning law prohibits contractors from doing any work before noon on Sundays.  (Section 180-49(C)(3)). This hurts the tradesmen in our town who need to work in the summer and on weekends to feed their families. Tradesmen have stated that they will increase job costs to homeowners if they can’t work on weekends to complete a job. Why does the Town Board choose to punish local tradesmen who are a vital part of our community?  

* The proposed zoning law wants to stop contractor noise on Sunday mornings, but, comically, it allows personal firing ranges to create noise on Sunday mornings without any limitations (Section 180-49(B)(16)).

* The proposed zoning law permits Zero Lot Lines and adds “Townhouses” (defined as three or more attached units) as permitted uses (with Special Use Permit) in Hamlet and RL-3 Zones. Not only will this intensify the population in those areas, it ignores a 2017 source water survey which concludes that hamlet water supplies are already strained. Dense townhouse developments will further strain the quantity and diminish the quality of the water supply in those areas. The hamlet and rural zones represent our history and our rural character. Why would we alter the character and landscape of our historic countryside by allowing this type of development?

* The proposed zoning law severely restricts residents’ rights to rent their homes for short stays on Airbnb and similar websites to earn extra income to pay for taxes, school tuition, home repairs, and making ends meet. The proposed law now contains twelve pages of burdensome regulations targeted at stopping short-term home rentals. Meanwhile NYS is looking at ways to welcome short-term rentals, and has determined putting sales tax on them will bring in over $100 million in revenue for the state, of which Chatham would get its cut. Why are they restricting something that our NYS Governor wants to support?

* The Town Board claims limiting short term rentals (there are less than twenty in Chatham) will somehow increase the inventory of affordable year-round rental units. Yet under the revised law, citizens who rent out their homes in the traditional way will be liable for fines and possible jail time for loud noises created by their tenants, even though the homeowner had nothing to do with making the noise. (Section 180-49(E)).  Why would we discourage landlords from renting the young families who would otherwise remain or choose to live in Chatham, and who keep Chatham diverse and vital?

* * *

The Town Board spent almost four years creating this onerous zoning law and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lawyers and consultants to help prepare the law. To be clear: the Town Board used our money to develop and promote a restrictive law that takes away our property rights.  

It’s vitally important that residents send a message to the Town Board that we don’t want their overbearing zoning law. We must stand together to protect our Town, our property rights and our rural way of life. We need to vote on November 5 for new leadership that will listen to residents and adopt zoning that is reasonable, not unduly restrictive.

Help Wanted: Town board members who represent the people they serve…

By Lisa Light

I can’t help but wonder why current leadership all over the world and even in small towns, seems to be polarizing its communities. I have never paid much attention to politics. I never had to…until now. To me, it seemed that things rarely change much regardless of who was in office locally or nationally. The changes that did occur, happened gradually and/or rarely affected me in small town America.

My bubble burst, however, when I heard about the drastic zoning laws that the Chatham Town Board was proposing this summer. I was forced to pull my head out of the sand and pay attention to what they were planning for our historically, live-and-let-live little town. It was jarring to discover that the future of our town is completely in the hands of 5 people – FIVE individuals have the power to significantly change the place where I have lived most of my life and where I have raised my family. How can that be? Shouldn’t we have more of a say and be able to vote when the board is proposing 226 pages of new laws?! The system hardly seems democratic or American! I guess it can, and has worked in the past, but the current Chatham Town Board is a far cry from being a fair representation of the Chatham community. In essence, it has become a bit like a dictatorship, because they are a small group that possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations.

A town board should be representative of its constituents. That is the only way a board can successfully govern a community fairly and democratically.

The current Chatham Town Board is 100% white, college educated and financially stable. Three are retired, only one is a woman and none of them were born or raised in Chatham or Columbia County. I do not know their political parties, however, it is truly NOT about what party the candidates belong to in local government, but where they fall on the issues that are important to their community. It is about balancing viewpoints and understanding the people you are serving.

We need to balance the board by voting in 3 new candidates who truly know what it is like to grow up, make a living and raise a family in Chatham today.

Donal Collins was raised on River Road in Chatham. He was closer to my brother’s age and played on his soccer team. I know my brother, always thought highly of him on and off the field. His parents were both teachers and farmers. His Mom, Pat Collins, worked for years at and helped make The Berry Farm what we know today. Donal is among the many Chatham High graduates who go off to see a bit of the world, earn a college degree and then realize that

Chatham is a great place to live. Donal is an interesting candidate because he has a mechanical engineering degree from Tulane University, he is a local farmer, and he works for a small business (Nancy Scans) in Chatham. Donal is a listener and a thinker and when he speaks he says very intelligent, well-thought out, practical ideas and people listen. I believe he will give his heart and soul to our town and he will lead with careful consideration of everyone’s needs and concerns. I am confident that he would make an excellent Town Supervisor.

Abi Mesick grew up in Austerlitz and went to Taconic Hills School. Her Dad, Dr. Barr Davis was a long time Chatham medical practitioner and our family doctor. Her Mom was his nurse, served for years as Austerlitz Town Justice, and together they raised 5 children. Although I went to a different school, I knew who Abi was. She made an impression because she was a quiet, petite, pretty tomboy who wore overalls, drove a pickup truck and could do jobs most girls didn’t attempt to do like climb and cut down trees! One day when I was 16 and a new driver, Abi came to my rescue. The hood of my car flew up and got stuck on my windshield. I was a pathetic, teenage girl that had no idea what to do. She pulled up behind me in her pickup truck, jumped out, grabbed a crowbar out of the back, marched straight to my car, unstuck the hood from my windshield, and then turned and left before I could say thank you. That is Abi. Strong, capable, ready to help and not looking for kudos or anything in return. She too left the area for New York City to study at Columbia University and she too returned to farm, start a business and raise a family in Chatham. She has experience in zoning as she assisted the Town of Austerlitz in passing their first zoning laws. She has demonstrated over the past several months that she will not take shortcuts when it comes to governing and leading our community into the future. She carefully read the proposed zoning and respectfully pointed out areas that needed revision and offered to help when she could. I am confident that Abi Mesick would do an excellent job representing women, children, farmers and business owners on the Chatham Town Board if she is elected.

I first met Vance Pitkin when I was planning the Millennial Celebration, Last Nite First Day, in Chatham in 1999. He was a great support in planning the celebration. He suggested and offered to make a beautiful, metal arch that we could erect in the Village green for revelers to walk through at the stroke of midnight as a symbol of walking from one century to the next. I have since enlisted him to refinish family heirlooms in his antique restoration shop and I have found that he runs his business with precision and integrity. He too is a farmer and lover of animals and the land as well, and would better represent the Chatham working community.

A town board should solicit community input, collaboration and communicate clearly, openly and thoroughly with its constituents especially when they want to make changes to the law. This results in buy-in from the community, ensures that the citizens are aware of the new laws, understand them and will comply. When board members want to change or amend laws, especially risky laws that could be detrimental to the future economy of the community, they need to remember that they are not expert policy and law makers. They were elected to serve their community. They need to thoroughly research, get advice from several experts (not just the ones they pay) and ask their constituents for input. There are several special interest groups in Columbia County who know what their members experience, need and want such as the Columbia County Economic Development Corp, The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, The Columbia County Board of Realtors, Columbia County Tourism Bureau, and the Chatham Agricultural Partnership.

I encourage Chatham citizens to vote for a board that better represents us on Nov. 5.

Your Local Vote Matters Most

Letter to the Editor:

Your vote in the upcoming election on November 5th  is of great importance.  One problem in the United States is that voters tend to focus on voting during presidential election years and pay less heed to local elections.  Elections at the local level are crucial and provide you with a chance to put individuals into office who will determine how your community will function and how your local needs will be met. 

Elected candidates will set and enforce local laws that have a great impact on your well- being.   In addition, local towns create budgets that affect how much money will be spent in maintaining roads, what programs your parks will offer and to whom and at what cost, funding for fire departments, providing police patrols, supporting agricultural concerns, and environmental issues.

In order to serve the needs of the community, the people must be listened to in a respectful and caring manner.  Communication, to be effective, has to be a process of listening, reflecting, and responding but then being willing to hear and respond to feedback.  All manner of business conducted at town meetings needs to be provided to all the constituents by many means.  Not all residents in Columbia County have internet or even access to the internet. 

In this upcoming election I urge you first of all to VOTE, second not to confuse national politics with the local issues that are impacting you first hand, and most importantly to vote for a team who will represent you by listening to your concerns, researching the issues and then acting in the best interest of the town at large and not a select few.  The team who will truly represent you in the Town of Chatham are Donal Collins for Supervisor, Abi Mesick for Town Board and Vance Pitkin for Town Board. Your vote counts!

Julia Veronezi

Town of Chatham

Response to Board’s Continued Lack of Communication by Ted Miner

The following was the statement, in full, by Ted Miner to the Chatham Town Board at the October 10, 2019 Board meeting, after learning of their violation of Open Meeting Law.

Bottom Feeding, Scum Sucking, Reprobates. The first words that came to mind as I digested “the Zoning Proposal forwarded to Columbia County for necessary review“.

Then I spent time reviewing my thoughts, conferring with those I respect, and remembering past associations.

I had sat every minute of the Q&A’s, as slowly many of my and others’ concerns were raised and dealt. I am today left with two “new” questions and one dramatic clarification. I understand others’ are left alike. I did not follow councilman Balcome’s advice “to send them on in”, as I had tried at the Tri-Village meeting and felt shorted. Besides, I do much better face to face where a dialog may take place.

Promised twice publicly, “The Q&A’s will end when the public stops coming/the questions are not new.”, I remained sure all would be addressed before the county submission. Previously scheduled to Oct. 8th, then to the 7th, finally to the 14th, (celebrated news to me at each designation), I was satisfied my concern was respected. Though on later thought, the dates’ movement may suggest other challenges when weighing the “ten days county acceptance window“.

The previous attempt to ratify the proposal included a board agenda identifying intent. Then the town board and planner Nan’s open in depth review and address of the county submission documents. Finally a public declaration of intent to file.

Though I had sat every minute of the town board meetings since June 21st I did not hear or see any intent to do the same. Not a sentence, not a word. Yet, it is done. Filed “received” Sept. 30th by Nan the planner, application signed Oct. 2nd by Maria Lull.

This came to my attention by another’s extreme diligence, I might say, “Luck”. The information is located under the website sidebar’s “Government” tab. Further, to the “Comprehensive Plan” tab. Finally located out of order, at the bottom of dated information. I, of course, had kept one eye on the dedicated “Zoning” information block. Obviously a mistake. This alone raised an eyebrow until I remembered the town board, while attempting communication solutions, had fallen well short of this fairly simple task.


I do not condone, “passage to then fix”. I do not accept, “time investment warrants passage”, nor, “always done this way”. I wonder, “I don’t know, somebody thought this was important”. More than once I heard, “should have been sent back to the Zoning Board, then addressed by a ZIC, finally to come to us, the town board”. I do not give out participation medals. I respect dedication and empathy.

That said, the foundational final insult is the undocumented action of the county submission. I accept no laws have been broken. I accept no collusion occurred. I accept the timing of the action was important to achieve the guaranteed decision process.

I accept the supervisor made the sole decision. signed her name, and had it filed by Nan the planner.

A concerted, deceitful action, meant to circumvent any opposition. Think June 20th.

I do not accept the insult of indifference to me or others. The “need to know” surely was then communicated to the board, yet there was no, (obviously warranted), zoning update at the Oct. 3rd board meeting. I and maybe all, of our town‘s unwashed, unimportant, certainly unaccountable, were not in the rarified circle. The disrespect to our highest concern, “Communication”, is unparalleled in my 37 year history of various boards’ participation and attendance. In my 45 year professional career, I have fired for far less. Even before I was held to a higher accountability.

“Openness” has become laughable.

Machiavelli suggested “The ruler governs only with the permission of the governed”.

Maria Lull, you do not have my permission.

The balance of the board…. Please remember you are my neighbors.

Ted Miner

At the end of his statement, Ted stood up, took off his “Truth Matters” button, handed it back to Maria Lull, and stated that he still stands by his words from weeks earlier that this group is not racist, but instead they are indeed elitist.