Town Supervisor Updates

Supervisor’s Statement 5.16.19

SUPERVISOR’S STATEMENT

 

Tax assessment letters went out this week. Just because the market value on your house went up does not therefore mean your taxes will go up. Please, if you feel upset or worried, go talk to our assessors. They are wonderful human beings like you, and their market values have gone up too. We have the best team in the County, and I can tell you, all the other towns are envious of our assessors. They’re open Tuesdays, Thursday, Friday morning and this Saturday morning, the 18th. Don’t sit at home fretting. Go find out the answers. And Grievance Day is Tuesday May 28th from 2pm-4 and 7pm-9 at Town Hall.

The Comprehensive Plan Review Survey is almost done. Our committee has been working diligently every Tuesday to pull together questions apropos of where we are now and what we might want to consider for the future now that so many things have been accomplished since 2004. In that time, the town has secured the preservation of most of our farmland and open space. Now is the time to work on downtown. When you receive your survey—which can be emailed to you as a Survey Monkey, or can be picked up at the Library as a paper survey, once again, do not think that taxes will go up because we are dreaming big. Dream Big and allow us to seek the help and funding from other sources for what we all want. And don’t forget June 17th at 7pm at the Community Center is our first Public Meeting on it. Come meet our new planners.

The Solar Law Committee is also very close in drawing up the regulations we want to see upheld in the Tier system these things require, addressing not only the roof-mounted in-town solar arrays we passed already, but ground-mounted, agricultural, and larger-scale arrays. Whereas we are encouraging the use of solar power here, we are protecting the landscape above all else. It may be that with the advent of more and more community solar projects, our residents can tap into that source for their electricity without having to build anything on their own.

Sarah and I traveled down to Pace Law School again for a very informative conference on affordable housing. There we met, among many other great people all working on this, a man from RUPCO, builders of the Woodstock Commons, a mixed-income development for seniors, young families and artists. Here is the thing to remember about affordable housing: it is not built to bring more people to town, it is built to keep people IN town. If people can afford to stay where they want to live, we will all feel a lot richer. He did ask me if we have a central wastewater system. Everything depends on that for new businesses and new housing to come in. No small town can afford to build these things are their own. That’s what grants are for.

Finally, I want to report on the Community Center. It is going great guns over there. People are renting it for birthday parties and baby showers, there’s Line Dancing on Thursdays and yoga and Tai Chi and the Book Sale Memorial weekend. Last night there was a lecture by a young woman who has been down on the border with Mexico, who gave a report on what’s happening there. It was extraordinary. We are so lucky to have this wonderful space.

 

Dear Pine Plains 5.10.19

Dear Pine Plains,

It’s raining, again, as I write this. It makes the colors of spring all that much more vibrant. Right? I never mind walking in the rain, but…

This past week, the Comprehensive Plan Review committee (or CPR as I like to refer to it) met again to work on our survey questions, which should be ready to go out very soon. They will be available in a Survey Monkey online or at the Library, and the sooner you can fill them out and return them, the sooner we have town input to work with. Stay tuned for that! Remember: the Comprehensive Plan is a visionary document. It identifies the town and hence what we can do to bring about a future which protects that identity. It is not zoning, but it affects what we can do about zoning. We meet generally at noon on Tuesdays for now. Anyone can attend and watch.

The Solar Law Committee also met. We are very close to some fine recommendations for drafting our Solar Law. These laws address solar panels and arrays via a 3 Tier approach. Tier 1 is for personal solar panels on rooftops in town; Tier 2 is for ground-mounted solar on farms and outside the hamlet; and Tier 3 is for large parcels of land. Our task is to protect neighbors, homeowners and the landscape and to promote the usage of solar power at the same time!

Tonight is the art show put on by Chanorth, which is an artist’s retreat located at the old Spruce Farm house on 199 just west of the hamlet. At 7pm, you can see their work displayed with a discussion at the Community Center. The Chanorth Art Center brings artists to town for periods of time to work on their own projects. I am dreaming of some kind of collaboration with artists to bring art into the hamlet. Anyone with ideas please contact me.

There is now yoga at the Community Center on Saturday mornings at 8:30am as well as on Monday nights. I have been going for awhile and can now touch my toes. A triumph! Thank you, Nichole Martini and Jordan Schmidt, instructors.

Coming up next week: on the 13th, the last home game for the girls basketball team will be played at the high school at 4:30. Go and lend your support. At 7:00 Wednesday the 15th at the Community Center, Abby Nathanson will be giving a report from the Border with Mexico, where she has traveled and assisted with the crisis there. This should be fascinating and informative.

Town Board Meeting is next week too, Thursday night at 7pm. On the docket: Martin Handler, School Superintendent, to explain the budget proposal and answer pertinent questions; and visitors from Habitat for Humanity to discuss affordable housing.

SAVE 2 DATES: JUNE 5TH 5:30-7:30 AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUMMIT at the Community Center and JUNE 17TH COMPREHENSIVE PLAN PUBLIC MEETING at the Community Center.

Stay informed, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

Dear Pine Plains 5.3.19

Dear Pine Plains,

This week, the Comprehensive Plan Committee met again twice to discuss how to create the Survey which will be available to everyone to fill out regarding our vision for Pine Plains. As this will be an Update to our original, quite beautiful, Plan, we are working to tackle those issues which have arisen as a result of the zoning inspired by the 2004 Plan. We are also looking towards a future which has new threats on the horizon as well as new opportunities. SAVE THE DATE June 17th we will hold the Public Meeting on this at the Community Center at 7pm. All encouraged to attend.

The incredible Stan Hirson will be retiring as cinematographer of our Town Board meetings, as we announced awhile ago. We will of course still film our meetings, but the quality will be going way down. Basically, we will put a camera in place and hit the button. We are sorry to see Stan go. We have archives which look better than the Godfather films! (Note: that is a joke!)

Board member Sarah Jones and I traveled down to White Plains on Thursday to take part in an affordable housing summit at Pace Law School. We met representatives from RUPCO as well as Hudson River Housing and look forward to showing them the town. Check out what RUPCO has done at Woodstock Commons… I was told that developers want to tie in to existing waste management systems when looking for properties… which is why it is so hard for small rural communities with no systems in place to attract them.

We are also organizing the next iteration of the Affordable Housing Partnership with Northeast and Amenia, which will be held the last week of May here in town at the Community Center. Details to come as they are set.

That week will also include a reading to be given by the Pine Plains Writers Group. Come to the CC at 7pm May 29th to hear the writings of your neighbors and friends in a relaxed and wonderful evening hosted by the Friends of the Library. Cookies and coffee involved.

It seems like every spring I look around and say: this is the most beautiful spring ever! Sarah and I said this again yesterday as we sped back north on the Taconic towards home. It is hard to argue with the beauty of blooming trees.

Bloom on, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 4.26.19

Dear Pine Plains,

Happy Arbor Day! Hug a tree! (This Town Supervisor confesses to actually having done that… no surprise!)

‘Twill be a rainy weekend, but don’t let that stop you from attending Opening Day at the ball fields, and signing up for Line Dancing at the Library starting May 2nd 6:30 pm for 5 weeks through the next month of Thursdays. Call Lori at 518-398-8600 ex1 to sign up!

This week we held our first meeting with our planners for the Comprehensive Plan Review, to take place over the next 6 months. We have a dynamic committee and will hold our first public meeting on June 17th at 7pm at the Community Center to get your thoughts on where the town is heading, and to talk about the Plan. You can access it on our website, www.pineplains-ny.gov. All are invited. We will also distribute hard copies of our survey (a short one of approx.. 10-12 questions) as well as have them available online as a Survey Monkey for those who sign up. Start dreaming about the future and come to this meeting!

I had a meeting with Dennis Wedlick on Monday, and got a tour of the affordable passive solar housing he designed in Ancramdale. It’s really impressive. Technically, this is a side-by-side 2 family structure, with 1250 sq feet of space in each, 3 BR with the possibility for a 4th or a formal dining room, a laundry room on the 2nd floor and 2 baths. It is being built with volunteers as well as the new owner, which is all per the way Habitat for Humanity works. They follow the owner their entire lifetime in the house as well to make sure it is maintained. Dennis was excited by all the possibilities in Pine Plains for this type of housing. If you have a lot in town which you are willing to donate to a project like this, please let the town know.

Pine Day was tons of fun. We set up the craft table and adults and kids alike made houses for Little People while we all listened to talks on composting and tree care, and the history of our trees. It was raining outside and everything felt lush with creativity and new buds. On Sunday, I walked around town and delivered the Little Houses to sites all over downtown. Look for them before they fall apart! Veronica at the Library has the list…

The Recreation Department has tons of events lined up for the summer, so pay attention to their Facebook page but also our website for more details and sign up!

And save the date for the Comprehensive Plan Review Public Meeting June 17th.

Dream on, Pine Plains.

Darrah Cloud

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 4.20.19

Dear Pine Plains,

It’s PINE DAY! Please come to the Library to participate in a wonderful few hours celebrating the trees of Pine Plains. From 10-11 we will be reading to the kids from our favorite books on trees; then holding a workshop for people to build small houses for the small people of the Mahegans, the Makiawisug. (They’ll be installed all over town afterwards—don’t worry, they’re biodegradable!) While that’s happening, the lectures will commence around 11:30, featuring local growers discussing composting, tree care, tree planting, tree history, and what we can all individually do to help mitigate climate change. If you’ve been reading the news recently, you’ll see the profound effect that trees have on carbon sequestration: in a nutshell, we need trees to do the work of keeping the planet cool. Seeds will be planted!

Thursday night at the Town Board Meeting, we passed the Unified Solar Permit Law, which defines solar installation zoning for rooftop and accessory building solar installations. This is our final “climate smart action” in becoming a Clean Energy Community, so as soon as the paperwork is in to NYSERDA, I hope to get word that we are in! I am really proud to be a member of a Board for which this has been a priority.

We will continue to work on the grand Solar Law for the Town of Pine Plains. This committee is awesome.

And so will be the newly formed Comprehensive Plan Review Committee. We meet for the first time on Tuesday at 12:30pm with our new planner, Frank Fish.

The town is also coordinating with the Library and Memorial Hall to work together on our calendars, so that events enhance each other rather than conflict with each other. This will be very important when the Hall opens officially in late summer, as our new Rec Director, Mike Cooper, has already blasted out of the gate with a hundred fantastic ideas about sports in Pine Plains. Keep an eye out on our website www.pineplains-ny.gov and on Facebook at Pine Plains Recreation Department and Pine Plains Town Hall: this is the best way for us to reach you about events! Hint: Save the Date for Ag Day!

Passover began last night and Easter is tomorrow. That feels profound to me this year. My grandmother was a Methodist who used to say, “With friends like God, who needs enemies?” Needless to say, my mother became an agnostic. My father was raised by Freemasons and became a Christian Scientist. Me? I became an artist. The intersection of that skill set with the work of government creates a powerful energy which I explore every day.

It’s going to rain all day—go to the Library, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 4.5.2019

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I drove to Ellicotteville, NY to attend the Syracuse University’s annual conference on infrastructure funding. It was inspirational and helpful, and once again, I got to meet fantastic people who work in government and want more for their towns. It’s hard to be a rural town in upstate NY, and we are the focus of this conference, which is very welcome.

I drove home at breakneck speed to get here in time to set up the Community Room for Marcus Molinaro’s Town Hall Meeting, which we held Wednesday night. The County Executive spoke at length before a packed house about such topics as the new jail being built in Poughkeepsie, (we now often have to pay to send inmates to other counties due to the lack of facilities here), the Special Olympics (cutting funding for this in any way is WRONG), economic development, and the new Stabilization Center. This center has beds and help for people fighting the disease of addiction. Help is there 24/7 for anyone who wants it, and the new facility is a model for other counties. That brought up the subject of a doctor for Pine Plains. The Town Board has been involved in trying to find a doctor, a PA, or perhaps a company willing to put an Urgent Care facility in here, where the old doctor’s office used to be. The executive promised to try and help us with this. The Town Board was very pleased to host County Executive Molinaro in Pine Plains.

April 12th is the Conference on Affordable Housing to be held at the American Legion in Millerton 155 Route 144 from 8:30am-3pm. Hosted by the Northeast Community Center, this promises to be an impactful and thoughtful gathering. You can sign up for this at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-conversation-housing-a-key-to-a-strong-local-economy-tickets-55922252964?blm_aid=25814

Today began with a nearly 3 hour meeting at the Moose with Gregg Pulver, Chairman of the Legislature, and Lisa Baker, Project Manager for the Durst Organization. As always—and as I said in my introduction for the County Executive, I am proud to be a part of the way government works in Dutchess County, and how we all collaborate, no matter what party we represent. This is unusual in the state and in the country and I think that’s what makes Dutchess County such a great place to live. My egg and cheese on a roll was really great.

Don’t forget Pine Day on the 20th. We are lining up speakers and a wonderful craft workshop, where people can make little houses for the Makiawisug, which Librarian Veronica and expert reader Nelson Zayas will be teaching us all about. Lectures on planting trees and composting and on actions we citizens can take to help us all survive climate change will be offered from 10-2pm. Please mark your calendars and bring children!

Peel back the winter mulch, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains 3.22.19

Dear Pine Plains,
As I write this, it is snowing big, fat flakes out the windows here at Town Hall. Welcome Spring!
Last night’s Town Board Meeting included a visit from a young couple who are looking to build a soccer field at the Deuel’s property. They presented a map of their idea which is currently at Town Hall for your perusal. They hope to restore the old Scale building and make it into a sports store, with a viewing area for people to watch the games, as well as install a turf field on which anyone can play all year long. Christian Goldfuchs is a professional soccer player for City of Leicester and he and his wife Raluca make their home here now. It will take some zoning amendments to bring the site into a sports field permitted area to make this happen. Although many people love the old building, it has serious structural problems. An old oil business in the back lot would have to be studied for what has been left in the ground, dating way back. They are willing to take down the building and clean all this up. What do you think?
We declared that the Town would declare an Arbor Day on April 26th and passed a resolution to form a Tree Board so that we might begin to apply to be a Tree City. We are putting together our first Pine Day on April 20th as well to celebrate our own town trees and offer trees and instruction for planting to townspeople. There will be crafts for youngsters and readings and talks at the Library all morning. Dennis Williams, our Watchman (he’s in charge of the Clock in the Tower!) asked me to remind people that William Eno was responsible for planting many of the trees we love years ago:
In 1852 William Eno purchased just about the entire corner of the village that is now from behind the bank to beyond the cemetery, and down towards the end of the village heading to Hammertown. He developed the roads and parcels that comprise Pine Street and Maple (at that time, “Elm”). There were just two private burial plots in a very small strip at that time what is now Evergreen Cemetery. He greatly enlarged the cemetery and had the roadways built into it. And he planted many of the trees!
We approved the Unified Solar Permit to go to the County as well as the Planning Board, the last step in passing it, after a Public Hearing.
We began discussion on permitting LEED Building with a tax incentive. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) The Assessors are studying what this would mean to our tax roll. We are weighing the cost to the town against the cost to the environment, as these improvements lessen the carbon footprint and fossil fuel usage.
We revived discussion of the Nuisance Law (ATVs and motorbikes in town) and passed around the letters of support for the law that we have received. So far there have been no letters of non-support.
April 12th is the Affordable Housing Workshop hosted by the Northeast Community Center in Millerton. It will take place at the American Legion there, 155 Route 44.
REBUILDING TOGETHER will be in attendance at that meeting, and we are still taking names of homeowners who need helping repairing their homes. They will be coming to Pine Plains again and offered to do a Day of repairing here for a number of homes, as well as our American Legion/VFW Hall.  You can be any age, but must meet the income requirements of 80% of the Dutchess County median income. That’s around $54,000/year. If you feel you qualify and want help, call Lori at Town Hall 518-398-8600 and she will put you on the list for receiving an application. We will help you fill it out as well.
We OKd the purchase of the Ruth Pulver house in order to add to our public parking capacity. This will paid for partly from Fund Balance and partly by a loan, at least at this point.
And finally, we would like to welcome two new people to the Recreation Department: Michael Cooper will be our new Recreation Director, and Nate Chase has consented to become a new member of the Rec Committee. Congratulations to both men. We are very excited to have you on board!
The snow is still falling! Stay bundled up, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 3.1.19

Dear Pine Plains,

 

Tomorrow is the All You Can Eat Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for our own Bill “Homer” Hall, who is handling a serious illness. It’s at the Firehouse at 7 Lake Road from 5-8pm Adults are $15 and Kids under 10 are $5, and if you can’t be there, they will accept checks written to the Pine Plains Hose Company with FOR BILL HALL written in the memo. You can mail those in too, to PO Box 668, Pine Plains, NY 12567. Bill and his wife Rhea are terrific people and need our help.

 

This past week, I met with Dutchess Tourism, who asked me to bring together a passle of businesspeople for a meeting with them. We met at Brett and Josh’s Gallery and Goods, in the old Grange… I wanted to impress them with the beauty of that place as well as the energy and enthusiasm of Pine Plains’ businessfolk, and frankly, we succeeded handily. With lots of new ideas coming from this meeting, we at Town Hall will be adding some things to our website for visitors. Maps to our great trails and bike routes, a driving map for a Beverage Route, a Farm Store Route, etc. Ideas always welcome. One takeaway from this meeting was the fact that, if we are to attract visitors to Pine Plains, businesses have to step up their social media engagement as well as their capacity to deal with tourists. Working farms are a huge attraction in Dutchess County, but how many farmers can actually drop everything and give tours? If we can get together on this, perhaps we can come up with a solution. After all, We Are Pine Plains. That’s what we do.

 

Marti Steed has graciously offered to help us sell the Old Library building for no commission. This week, she showed the building 3 times, so interest is growing. Fingers crossed that we attract a new business and new folks who love who and what we are.

 

We also met with Hudson River Housing to begin talking about building affordable housing in Pine Plains. This is an awesome not-for-profit which also offers workshops on home maintenance, on buying homes, and on being landlords. Rental space is dear in Pine Plains, and the landlord class might inspire more people to rent to others, so look for them to come in the near future to hold these classes.

 

Central Hudson put up our LED lighting in record time! The workers were so excited by the project that they got it done in 4 days. (I think they just liked eating at our restaurants!) This will result in big savings for the town and people report liking the more focused light. The stars are still visible in Pine Plains.

 

And finally, we are hiring a planner! BFJ Planning will be helping us with our Comprehensive Plan Review in the coming months. You can look them up online at www.bfjplanning.com The Town Board is very excited.

 

The ice has been too soft to skate on, and the sidewalks too icy to walk on!

 

Stay upright, Pine Plains!

 

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 2.15.19

Dear Pine Plains,

So many things happen in the course of a day at Town Hall. It’s tax season, so the door is constantly swinging with people coming to pay their taxes. They chat with Eileen, our Tax Collector, and have a cup of coffee, which we brew every morning now for folks who stop in, and highway department guys, and workers from the State on their breaks. Lately, people have been stopping in to enquire about vacant buildings in town, and to talk about what is possible to build in Pine Plains. Come in for a cup and a chat anytime.

 This past week, I was able to sit down for coffee with Chair of the County Legislature Gregg Pulver at Moose on the Loose. We had a great talk about all our dreams for the town, and how to make them more than that. I also always get a great history lesson on Pine Plains, which really helps in taking things forward.

 I also touched base with Carvel Development Project Manager Lisa Baker at Tower Pizza for lunch. We had a nice conversation about affordable housing among other things as they continue to re-design their project. They will be hosting designers up here next week.

 This week we welcomed the opening of a new business in town: Spud Shack! The fries are awesome. Right next to Hugs and Kisses Florist and the Pine Plains Pharmacy!

 On the Agenda for the Town Board Meeting on the 21st  is the Unified Solar Permit, a Climate Smart Action which will count as our third step towards our becoming an official Climate Smart Community. Once 50% of our LED lights are in, we can then file for our last “action”. If you see Central Hudson around town putting in new lights, that’s what that is. Once again, this will save the town approximately $5000+ a year and pay for itself in 3 years.

 We are very close to hiring a planner for our Comprehensive Plan review, which will commence very soon. Just to remind you, the Comprehensive Plan is just that—a plan. It is not a law or an ordinance, it is a vision statement, and as such exists to guide towns in their decision making and zoning. We’re looking forward to digging into that document, seeing what we’ve already accomplished, and looking to ways to bring it up to date. There are new strategies for town planning that have emerged since it was written and we hope to bring them into play using the Plan as a guide. You can read the old Plan online on our website, www.pineplains-ny.gov

 Our new tractor is due to arrive in town around March 5th. Look for it this summer, as its mowing capacity is awesome. Shall we name it? (By the way, Highway Superintendent Heather Wilson got married on Valentines Day! They celebrated at the Stissing House. We wish her and Mike many happy years!)

 BTW—we are still looking for a Recreation Director! The job description is at Town Hall. Long hours, low pay, much appreciation.

 There has been no ice for skating during the recent thaw, and although our hockey enthusiasts are disappointed, hikers abound on Stissing Mountain and the geese are thrilled. There is nothing like the sound of geese coming in for a landing in the fields south of town.

 Land safely, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 2.8.19

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I attended the monthly meeting of the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Association. It is a great resource for what other towns are doing, or not doing, and advice. As the rookie last year, I was drafted into becoming their Secretary, which suits my skill set and which I am happy to do. Hence, I am on the Board of this group. In that capacity, I get to go to meetings with the County Executive among other things. These meetings are usually rousing, opinionated, and thrilling. One of the main topics at both meetings was the fact that the proposed State budget for 2019 takes away State Aid for towns. This aid is called AIM. For Pine Plains, this is a loss of a budgeted $9,000+, which in a small town like this is a lot of money. If our AIM is cut, this will mean that the tax cap is exceeded and taxes will go up. Our group is writing a strong letter to the governor against eliminating this aid. Another topic at both meetings was ambulance service in Dutchess County. The County Executive is working on a Shared Service idea which would combine service for small towns in various areas at a rather heavy price. He warned us that this is coming in about a year. That said, there might be an opportunity for our Rescue Squad to become one of the providers of this service, which means they could be paid for their work.  I will certainly advocate for that if allowed. More on this as his plan is revealed. At issue also is the tax cap. The history of the tax cap is that it was imposed on school districts to keep them from going overboard, then imposed on towns in order to be equitable. Putting the tax cap into permanent status is on the table right now. Our feeling is that the tax cap should not include capital projects, which greatly inflate our budgets. Those are just a few of the things we discussed at both meetings. I believe that this is a very valuable association for Pine Plains to be a part of, and it’s always exciting to go down to the County Building and meet with CE Molinaro and his staff.

We had our first meeting of Group of Strangers on Thursday. From 1-2pm every Thursday, Addiction Recovery Coach CaraMia Bacchiochi will be here to just sit and talk with people about addiction. She’s a wise person and this is a safe space to talk about anything. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, and are reticent to talk with her, remember this: the stigma of being an addict is what prevents us from getting help when we need it. And if you think that no one knows what you’re going through in a small town, consider this: everyone knows. So take the first step and go talk to CaraMia!

I sat down with advocate Sam Busselle to discuss affordable housing this week as well. Sam helped start the Northeast Community Center in Millerton, which among other things, helps transport people from Pine Plains to their doctor appointments and the VA via their Dial-a-Ride program. He is trying to put together a collaborative approach for this between 3 towns. He is sponsoring a conference April 12th in Millerton on the subject and we will be in attendance. He is looking for interested investors. There is a lot of innovative action in this area including passive solar homes being built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity at a cost of around $140,000.

So many balls in the air, so little time!

Stay juggling, Pine Plains!