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Town Supervisor Updates

Dear Pine Plains 9.24.21


Dear Pine Plains,

The week after a Town Board Meeting is always made up of carrying out the instructions of the Board on various decisions we have made at the meeting. I thought I might depict a typical Monday after Board Meeting to give you an idea of what the job of Town Supervisor entails.

First, keep in mind that a Town Supervisor is a government position that is not like a mayor. Mayors are installed in Villages and Cities. Supervisors are installed in Towns. They have different jobs. My job is essentially to create the agenda for each meeting, to run the meetings via Roberts Rule of Order, to write and mind the Budget, to write grants for additions to the Town for which taxes cannot pay, and to be at Town Hall to answer citizens’ questions and help them with their problems. A Town Supervisor in Dutchess County has the ability to declare a State of Emergency, but that is the only power a Supervisor has. My vote is 1 of 5.

6am: Read and answer email

11am: Host meeting with County Office of Emergency Response Commissioner Dana Smith and Eoin Wrafter, Head of County Planning. They brought a team of consultants up to Pine Plains to meet with our Broadband Committee on the work we’ve done to map and identify where the holes are in our service. We also invited the Towns of Milan, Stanford, and Northeast/Millerton to the meeting, and all attended. Bottom line: they want to survey people all over again on the subject and this will take more time. We pushed back on this, asking them to seriously read our Report as published on our website, and to use our data to make recommendations as to building out the service in northeast Dutchess County. We hope they listen to us. All seemed to be good people trying to do their jobs well. They all know that internet should be considered a utility by now.

12:30pm: Spoke with the father of a veteran whose Hometown Heroes flag is in; flags hopefully going up this week.

1pm on: Re-read contents of last week’s Board Meeting, sent new laws to State divisions, corrected copy as passed, placed all the materials from the meeting in binder.

Answered more email:

Referred displaced tenants at Town Center to help from Hudson River Housing

Connected property owner to lawyer/engineer on easement situation

Received request from State granting authority to make a video about Pine Plains and why we                  need downtown revitalization; began reaching out to people who know how to make videos for                  help. Began formulating ideas.

Spoke with 2 citizens about the Bicentennial project to film and interview our elders on their own history in Pine Plains. Got some great stories. They promised to help me get the farmer they had in mind together with his mentee for the interview. John Boadle has consented to be interviewed by Ben Prentice. I hope more people will step up and agree to do this for the archives of our Town historical society.

Spoke with County regarding procurement requirements for the new playground. We need to bid this out. They have recommendations for help on this and companies to ask, as well as opportunity for piggybacking on a New York State bid. Many opportunities here to save money and get what we need.

Contacted Rec Dept to ask for help doing this. Met with Rec Director by phone.

Spoke with Town Clerk, Building Inspector, police department regarding various issues.

Spoke with County on grants received, how to process and administer.

Worked further on the 2022 Budget and Salaries.

Answered more email.

Signed checks, signed vouchers, contacted bank about SWEEP account. “Swept” money into General Fund.

Answered more email. Tracked down and sent town attorney account documents for new building.

A typical Monday.

This weekend is the Roast Beef Dinner at the Presbyterian Church 3039 Church Street. Please call ahead to order your dinners. They are $17 each and pickup time is from 4:30 to 5:30. Call Carol Hart at 518-398-7056 for yours. All proceeds go to purchasing wreaths for veterans at the Evergreen Cemetery as a part of National Wreaths Across America Day, which will occur December 18th at 12pm.

There is a blues concert Saturday night the 25th at 8pm at The Stissing Center.

Make plans to attend the Ag Fair which is going ahead on Columbus Weekend. You cannot miss Crazy Creatures.

This week I was invited to Bard College to take part in a class on Democracy and how to preserve it. The Town Supervisor of Red Hook was also invited, and we spoke with students about how we work, and what challenges we are facing. In return, we got to sit through the lecture on “citizen assemblies”, which was extraordinary. Basically it is a way to tackle an issue via a series of meetings of randomly selected townspeople from all walks of life. Many such assemblies can take place over a period of many months. In a way, we do this already with our Standing Committees. Our police Stakeholders Committee was highly representative of the town. But seeing the way this is set up was enormously eye-opening. The students may come to Pine Plains to help with our community meeting on the wastewater system. I have been invited to be a speaker at the Hannah Arendt Conference in October as part of this.

Supervisor McKeon commented that most of the celebratory events held in towns are not for the citizens themselves but for attracting visitors and money. I was reminded of our Ag Fair, our Town Decoration Day, and our Memorial Day, events designed FOR our own citizens, with the idea that you do not have to have money in order to participate. I know that is the mission of these traditions, and frankly, find it a huge relief. Visitors are always welcome, but these things are designed by and for the betterment of the town. And primarily for our children.

Which is not to say that any of it can be done without businesses here stepping up and sponsoring things.

So buy local, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 9.17.21


Dear Pine Plains,

Don’t forget Town Clean-up Day tomorrow, 8am to 2pm. Get rid of your dad’s old Barcalounger that’s been sitting in the garage molding. Thank you, Lenny Liberta, for once again donating the dumpsters and the drivers. The Presbyterian Church is holding a roast beef dinner for pick-up next weekend, so plan for that. Let them know what you need. And there is chamber music at the Stissing Center this weekend. La!

I have a few New Age pals who like to say that you can change your destiny. I think of myself as Old Age, but I love that paradox of language. And last night the Town Board did change the destiny of the Town by voting in the first round of zoning text changes recommended by our Zoning Review Committee, which will loosen the grip of zoning on a number of properties and projects around Pine Plains. In particular, I know it is our hope that people will be able to use the new accessory dwelling unit law to turn a small barn or garage into an apartment for a starter family or a senior to live in, thus enhancing available affordable housing in the hamlet. Contact our Zoning Code Officer/Building Inspector Drew Weaver if you’d like to learn more about how to do this.

The other laws we passed and did not pass have to do with marijuana lounges and dispensaries. This Board did much research on the subject to best represent what the response was to the subject by townspeople. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to having a dispensary here. On-site consumption not so much. A few points really stood out in forming our decision: a) the State is regulating marijuana the way it does alcohol with numerous restrictions on where it can be sold and used; b) were we to opt-out of allowing a dispensary here, we would lose our place in a long line and years long process of putting out licenses and forming regulations; c) that process if we opt-in will take enough time that we will have plenty of time ourselves to regulate and zone the location of a dispensary. With this reasoning in mind as well as the benefit of the sales tax on marijuana of 4% for the Town, the Board voted to opt-in for allowing a dispensary here and opt-out of allowing on-site consumption of marijuana.

The Durst Organization is about to come back with their incorporation of citizens’ comments as a result of their scoping meetings, further affirming our collaboration with them on their Hudson Valley Project. The Planning Board, a group of citizens charged with oversight of all the building in the town, is the key to this collaboration and their careful decisions along the way could help to create an historic kind of development that is environmentally positive rather than exploitive.

All these decisions come out of a huge commitment to Pine Plains and a lot of hard work on the parts of numerous volunteers as well as the people we’ve hired to help us. The work has been collegial and imperative for the right kind of growth in Pine Plains in keeping with fulfilling the dreams of our Comprehensive Plan. When you look at a town with empty storefronts downtown, and broken roads, and a dollar store on the outskirts, you can see a destiny in that. It takes courage and hard, obsessive work to change that destiny.

Let’s make good history, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 9.10.21

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Dear Pine Plains,The big news from last week is still big news: we received grants totaling around $110,000 for a new all-abilities playground, 2 all-terrain wheelchairs, and the district formation of our potential central wastewater system. I wanted to explain here what this means. The Playground: it’s called a Bridging Pathways set and has the space for a wheelchair to go to every location in its immersive play space. It’s vast, and this money will pay for about half of it. The rest of the money will come from us all. The grant is for $70,000—and we need $141,000. You can write a check for any amount and send it to: Madelin Dafoe, Town Clerk, Box 955, Pine Plains, NY 12567 or drop by Town Hall and leave it with Madelin or Alice. Write it to: Town of Pine Plains but in the memo please write PLAYGROUND! Let’s do this!

The two all-terrain wheelchairs will allow people to get onto our trails and around our ball fields and onto our beach and right into the lake. They are fascinating pieces of engineering, and we hope this will open these assets to many new people. We will set up a way to check them out when we get them.

Finally, the money for the formation of a Sewer District is based on our Sewer Feasibility Study, which has just been completed. We are negotiating for the location for a possible central septic system, underground, and will be holding a public meeting on this in the coming months. Suffice it to say, the town needs a system: right now, restaurants cannot open with enough capacity to be successful, and regular people can’t open a new business due to the huge expense of the septic requirements by the Department of Health.

Next week’s Town Board meeting is on the 16th. There are two big laws being discussed: the marijuana laws and the zoning review changes. We are still accepting your input on whether to allow a dispensary or a lounge here in Pine Plains. We would love to have more feedback. Write me at or drop off a note.

If you need a hunting or fishing license, our new Town Clerk is open for business from 10-1pm five days a week now! Come say hi to Madelin Dafoe.

The 9/11 Memorial Tribute in Stanfordville will take place all day at their Town Hall on Route 82. Many people in both communities read the names of the lost for a recording that will play all day. Stop by and see it.

There is a swing band playing at The Stissing Center tonight at 8pm! Go swing with them!

The first Narcotics Anonymous meeting took place last Tuesday at the Church of the Regeneration rectory, 16 Pine Street. Our recovery coach told us that sometimes people don’t want to come to a meeting in their hometown and prefer to find a place where no one knows them. But please give it a try and send people who would like to be a part of this in their own community to the meeting. There is something big to be said by those handling these issues to have a voice in our town, and the importance of their experience and knowledge is huge. Openness is how we get to recovery, and the whole community would benefit from that. It takes a town. The meeting will be every Tuesday at 6:30pm.

We will be discussing the 2022 Budget at the next Town Board Workshop on Monday the 13th at 7pm, but also the concept of affordable housing. Right now, people cannot find rental housing in Pine Plains that they can afford. Homes previously for rent are being sold in the current sellers’ market, and renovated places are going for high rents. The Town Board actually has been working on this issue since 2018. Finding the land to build a small development, finding a developer, finding a way to do this has been a constant effort. We helped found the Tri-Town Coalition on Affordable Housing with Millerton and Amenia, and it has come down to this: without a wastewater system in the hamlet, no developer will touch the town. Should we build one, they will come. There are many moving parts to solving this issue. If you’ve ever said or heard this phrase: “We don’t want those people here!” know that “those people” are now your kids and your parents and could be you.

Use this weekend to get out your items for Town Clean-up Day on the 18th. We will see you at the Highway Department from 8am to 2pm thanks to the generosity of Lenny Liberta, who donates the dumpsters every year and hauls them away. Remember, there will be fees charged for certain items. See our website. Think of getting rid of all that junk as getting rid of the past!

And never forget, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud


Dear Pine Plains 9.3.21


Dear Pine Plains,


Pine Plains has just won 3 grants from the Municipal Investment Grant Program of Dutchess County:

Wastewater District Formation
Project Award: $32,600
Awarded Municipality: Town of Pine Plains
Project Description: Following the completion of a sewer feasibility study, the town will hire a consultant to assist with the preparatory requirements needed to form a wastewater district. The district would provide town residents and businesses with critical infrastructure for long-term sustainability.

All-Terrain Wheelchairs for Town Parks and Trails
Project Award: $7,530
Awarded Municipality: Town of Pine Plains
Project Description: Purchase two all-terrain wheelchairs for use by children and adults at town parks, trails, and the town’s public beach at Stissing Lake, giving residents and visitors of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy the town’s recreational offerings.

Stissing Lake Beach Park Wheelchair Accessible Playground
Project Award: $70,000
Awarded Municipality: Town of Pine Plains
Project Description: Purchase and install a Bridging Pathways Playground at the beach park at Stissing Lake. The playground will be fully inclusive and wheelchair accessible, while providing multiple and varied play components for all children to enjoy.

I am grateful and excited! On with other news:

On September 4th from 9-9:30pm, over 22 fire towers around the state will be illuminated to commemorate the service of the many volunteers who served as our fire observers in the past, who protected our communities from the ravages of forest fires. FOSL, the Friends of Stissing Landmarks, will light up our Stissing Mountain Fire Tower during that time, joining others across the Adirondacks and the Catskills. You will be able to see it from routes 199, 82, 83 and numerous side roads. Take a pause, find a spot, and look up at some history.

We are still accepting—and will until 10 days after the public hearing on September 16—comments on opting out of the opportunity for a marijuana dispensary or lounge here in Pine Plains. Please check out the Law as written, which is up on our website, as well as the numerous explanations I have sent the past month. We would love to have your feedback if you have not sent it in. Ideas for how to regulate any of these businesses would be welcome as well.

Be sure to mark your calendars for 9/11, a Saturday, and visit the memorial on the grounds of the Stanfordville Town Hall, where the names of those lost will be read on a recording made by many citizens of our towns.

And don’t forget Town Clean-up Day on the 18th! 8-2pm at the highway garage recycling area. Once again, Lenny Liberta is donating the dumpsters for the event. We do have to pay the dump fee at the landfill, hence we charge for certain items. Posters are all over town listing them. Anything with freon is about $20 as are mattresses and sleeper sofas. But furniture and junk is mostly free.

I am currently working on a huge grant for Downtown Revitalization via the State. This will be my third try. These grants are given out almost every year and are aimed at helping Cities, Villages and Towns renew their centers. We all write 15 pages of history and need and all the work we have done for the future and are judged on that. I have said many times here in the newsletter that I think prior Supervisors and I have all done great work studying our needs over the last 2 decades, working with County Planning on sidewalks and a design for the hamlet and a simple wastewater system, and we have a lovely stack of plans—but no way to implement them without a lot of help from the County, State and Federal Governments. They have never awarded a DRI Grant to a small rural town, but there is always a first time!

I am also working on the 2022 Budget for the Town. Health insurance has gone up a whopping 7%, unallocated insurance (buildings and equipment) has gone up about 5%, and salaries need to be brought up into the competitive realm. Our employees deserve that, and it is the best way to retain good people. Those are the biggest challenges I see right now to the budget. We will discuss the Tentative Budget at the next Board Meeting, and I will attempt (drum roll please) to put the budget document up on the screen during our meeting so people can see what it looks like. As always, the Budget will be put up on our website when it is more fully fleshed out and is always available for perusal at Town Hall. The hardest thing about writing a Town Budget is seeing clearly into the future and planning for it.

Madelin Dafoe has settled nicely into the Town Clerk chair at Town Hall. Please come meet her if you don’t know her, and get your licenses and records work here, 10-1pm every weekday. She has a wonderful smile.

The first official Narcotics Anonymous Meeting in Pine Plains will be held next Tuesday the 7th at the rectory of the Episcopal Church, 18 Pine Street at 6pm. If you know anyone interested in being a part of this group, please pass along this information.

AND our dynamic Recreation Committee is now raising money for a new all-abilities playground to be installed at the beach and ball fields area. You can write a check to the Town of Pine Plains but in the MEMO please put “Playground”. As you know, many attempts to get a new playground have failed over the years–but now we have a great shot at it. No amount is too small, no effort at fundraising wasted! Bring your check to Town Hall or find someone you know on the Committee. We need your help! It’s a really neat playground with wheelchair accessibility and lots of immersive things for kids of many ages to do. And no splinters!

As we go into the High Holidays in September, I am reminded of a blessing I heard as a child whenever terrible things were happening in the world: “May you live in interesting times.”

Stay blessed, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 8.27.21


Dear Pine Plains,

I attended the Fair on Think Differently Day (Thursday) when the lights and sound are turned off for a while for people sensitive to chaos. It was pretty great. The horticulture building and Grange and art exhibits were all diminished, but there. The farm and animal barns are as full as ever. Some of my favorite tents are missing—the performance tent and the dog tent—but the rides and vendors were busy despite the heat and I plan on going to the 4-H horse show re-scheduled for Sunday. Fair Week is like a holiday week.

But we did manage to get a fair amount done at Town Hall. We are assembling Department budgets so that I can then deliver the Tentative 2022 Budget in September; we did more grant writing for a new all-abilities playground; we passed, at our last Board Meeting, the law for a standing zoning review committee, thereby making our Zoning Law a living document, which is key to progress here. Demo on 8 and 12 N. Main continues and the Final Draft of our Sewer Feasibility Study was delivered. We will be scheduling a public meeting about this in September or early October. I am looking forward to meeting with the County on the Broadband situation in northern Dutchess, where we will meet the consultant the County hired to map out areas not served. We have gotten together with Northeast, Milan, and Stanford to look into teaming up for funding for the build-out on underserved areas. The Marijuana
discussion also remains live, and we will present the Opt-Out laws for a Public Hearing at the next Board Meeting on September 16th. Please review Tuesday’s Special Edition of this newsletter for the nitty gritty on that. It is posted on our website and on Facebook under Pine Plains Town Hall. We will need comments sent to us as well as attendance at the Public Hearing for comments made in person.

The Municipal Investment Grants issued by the County will be announced next week, and I am excited about this. We wrote over $100,000 in grant proposals this year and hope to hear at least some good news. Grants are the only way small towns can make improvements without raising taxes.

These last two weeks of August always feel like being on pause: school hasn’t started, it’s too hot, there’s prep to do before the launch of the Fall… In the old days there was School Shopping. Cliff Thorpe is still open, because he loves his work. Stop in there. I miss those days. Treasure these moments, parents!

And stay cool, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 8.24.21 Special Edition



Dear Pine Plains,

I am writing this Special Edition in order to make very clear what is happening around these laws for Pine Plains. I will try and make this as succinct and clear as I can as well as brief, but it is a complex issue. To whit:

  1. The State legalized marijuana this year with some important limits: licenses to open marijuana businesses would be set at an exorbitant $250,000 per license. This was very intentional to limit the number of establishments—dispensaries or lounges—in the State. In addition, only around 700 licenses will be issued, for the entire State of New York. Very key to the discussion here. There are a number of other limitations and requirements on these businesses, including ultra security measures for each.
  2. The State legislated a 13% sales tax for sales of marijuana, giving 4% to every town where it is sold. Counties receive another percentage. Sales tax collected by the Counties is distributed back to the towns which collected it. (This is different than our usual sales tax, which is distributed on a per capita basis to all towns regardless of where it is collected.) For Pine Plains, which has no real revenues, this would be a significant revenue. (How do towns make any revenue other than by taxing its citizens? Speeding tickets and grants. Stanford and Milan, for instance, make close to $1 million/year on Taconic speeding tickets. Millerton has an income from Route 22.)
  3. Marijuana would be treated like alcohol and cigarettes are—so that every law that rules alcohol/cigarette sales and use would apply to marijuana. In Pine Plains you can not openly carry liquor and drink it in public places like parks, or while walking down the street. You cannot smoke in buildings. Outside use near entrances or establishments must be regulated but heir owners.
  4. The State has mandated that a decision be made by every village, city and town as to whether they will allow a dispensary or a lounge in their jurisdiction. This decision has to be made by December 31st of this year.
  5. The decision to OPT-OUT means that a town can OPT-IN whenever it wants to. The decision to OPT-IN requires no law being passed at all. This is important to know, as it is the confusing part of all this. Pine Plains Town Board decided to present the OPT-OUT LAWS to the public in order to find out where people stand on the issue and get more feedback so that we can make an informed decision. The public hearing for that will be at the next Town Board Meeting on September 16, 2021 at 7pm. You are invited to attend. Wear a mask and socially distance.

The Town Board has done some extensive research on the issue which I have shared with you over the last few weeks in my weekly newsletter. The newsletters are stored on our website if you’d like to review a past one. At our Town Board Workshop on August 15th, we had a deep discussion with attendees about the subject. This is up on YouTube at our Town of Pine Plains site. I offered to reach out to other towns with experience with this as to the impact in their communities. I also offer some ideas around this here for contemplation. I am sure there are many more ideas out there which I welcome. But here is what I have learned so far:

Gunnison, Colorado: more of a city, 6000 people spread way out; nearest mental health services are 90 minutes away. Their mayor told me that Colorado gives a license to anybody, hence they zoned an area for dispensaries where they can do business to keep them out of their downtown.

We can zone where a dispensary might be situated. We can regulate a lounge.

He told me that they use their sales tax money to create mental health services for their community, which they are in process of doing. They also tacked on an excise tax of 5 cents per sale and use that for the same thing.

We could add an excise tax here and use it for a) a ride service for impaired drivers; b) a mental health worker who might help our police with things like homeless autistic people who need help, or domestic problems or untreated drug addictions.

Jim told me also that he has learned some valuable things about the drug. That for the most part it makes people peaceful, unlike alcohol; that its demonization led to it being tried out then widely used in the first place, because the credibility of its detractors was called out; and if that led to opiate use, the gateway was false information, not marijuana itself. He said he smelled it far less on the streets and on young people than he did before it was legalized. He has no lounges. He feels that legalization helped enormously in lowering overdose rates, as illegal marijuana was often laced with other drugs. Dealers of illegal marijuana moved into the legal growing of the plant, reducing crime. Many of his observations were truly surprising to me.

There will be more information and thoughts on this as ideas come in. We have a big decision to make in the next few months. Please help us find the best one.

Stay vocal, local Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud






Dear Pine Plains 8.19.21

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Dear Pine Plains,This weekend, the Stissing Center introduces their new organ to the world at 4pm on the 22nd which is Sunday! Don’t miss it! As they say in their flyer, everything from Back to Queen and in between.

And on Tuesday, our first NA Meeting will be held at 6:30 at the Parish of the Church of the Regeneration, 18 Pine Street. Anyone dealing with addiction and recovery is invited to attend. Enormous thanks to the church and Deb Hagan, our Recovery Coach, for pulling this together.

This past month we launched an inquiry into how people in town feel about the Town allowing a marijuana dispensary and/or lounge as a business in town. We have received more than 40 responses so far and a lot of conversations have taken place off the record about it. I spoke yesterday with the Mayor of Gunnison, Colorado, Jim Gelwicks on the impact of dispensaries and lounges in his small rural town in the mountains. I was so happy that he responded to my inquiry and we spent a lot of time on the subject. They have different state laws around the issue, particularly the fact that anyone can get a license to open a store. In NY, there are only 700 or so licenses available and they will be given out with an eye towards distributing them around the State. One of the main things he mentioned was that they used their sales tax money to create their first-ever mental health services for the town. They, like us, are far from any services and have none. (It takes them 90 minutes to reach help.) This is aimed at mitigating the impact of marijuana sales in the town. However, his observation has been that those with issues would find the drug no matter who sells it, and if it were illegal, there would be no way to control the quality. he also said something surprising to me: that when it WAS illegal, the rhetoric about the drug was proved to be false–it didn’t make people crazy, or violent, it made them drowsy and high. Thus the credibility of authorities on the subject was shot, and people tried harder drugs thinking they would also not be what they were told. In effect, he thought that the “gateway” people talk about was a problem with credibility and truth, not actual marijuana.  As regards the laws, if we do nothing, we automatically opt-IN to allowing both dispensaries and lounges, but we cannot opt-OUT ever again.  If we opt-OUT, we can still opt-IN at a later date. It’s complex. So in order to maintain control over the situation, on the advice of our town attorney, last night we voted to “opt-OUT” of both of these laws, so that we can “opt-IN” by either deciding to do nothing, or later, after the December deadline, when we will have more information about the State Law. That will give us guidance over what we need to re-zone or put into an ordinance to make this work in Pine Plains. Opting OUT gives us power over the situation because we can always opt-IN. It’s a bit hard to figure out the logic here, but that’s the way it is. Next month we will open a public hearing for more formal input on the laws. You can attend that meeting or submit written comments. We will need to hear from you during that process. I will write another newsletter solely on this topic to make sure this is very clear to people.

The Town Park awaits the fountain, which requires a special machine to get it into the site, and a fix for the stone pathway that will secure the material so that feet and wheelchairs can use it.

The demolition of 8 and 12 N Main began with asbestos removal and should be totally done within the next two weeks.

We have now finished our two scoping meetings for the Hudson Valley Project at the high school and received a very warm thank you from the Durst Organization on the efforts of the Town Board and the School in working together to host this meeting. These meetings offered an opportunity for people to get up and ask for things to be studied as a part of the work that must be done to figure out the impact of such a project on the Town. The meetings are on YouTube at our Planning Board site as well as the Town Board site. But in general the comments added up to some really thoughtful and thorough thinking on the impact of the development on town life. They also opened up the written comments for an additional 10 days after the meetings. That period is now closed.

I am looking forward to a meeting with the County, their new Broadband consultant, whom they hired with money from the rescue Plan, and the three surrounding towns of Milan, Stanfordville and Millerton on how we might get together to receive grant money to build out the rest of our broadband service in northern Dutchess in a shared effort. This should take place the first week of September.

The completed Sewer Feasibility Study has just been sent in to us and the next step is a public meeting to present the findings to everyone. That will hopefully take place in September or early October.

The Zoning Review Committee has completed its work for this year, and if you recall, we are looking to pass a law here to make our zoning a living document so that we can convene the Committee yearly to review any problems that become known.

A hugely successful camp season has concluded and the Girls 10 and Under Softball Team well represented us at the State Finals and came home to a wonderful celebration at the Stissing Center.

There is so much going on in Pine Plains that it is hard to pare the details down to a newsletter. Watch for an extra missive or two in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud


Dear Pine Plains 8.13.21


Dear Pine Plains,

Last weekend I got to meet Roger Payne, the biologist who discovered that whales sing. You read that right. He runs the Whale Institute in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He is the guy who recorded Songs of the Humpback Whale, which a generation of us listened to, I know. And Joni Mitchell sang with. We asked him about climate change and here is what he said: However this will end, it will be fast—fire, drought, famine or pandemic. Is there any hope? we all then asked. “Oh, I’m hopeful—if just one billionaire would use all of his or her resources to save our species, that would save the world. Literally, one person could change the world right now.” Otherwise, he continues, it could also take 10,000 regular people devoting their lives to saving all species, starting now. Because, he finished, diversity is the only thing that can save us.

More opinions are welcome on the subject of the Marijuana Laws, which I brought up a few weeks ago. Monday we will be meeting to discuss this at our monthly Town Board Workshop: whether the town should allow a by-law high-security dispensary business to open here, and whether or not we ought to allow a “lounge” type business to open here. There are documents about this on our website, and your careful thoughts on this would be appreciated if you haven’t sent them in yet. The State would be taxing sales at around 13% with 4% going to the town. A lounge would be ruled the way bars are, and smoking is an issue we would need to deal with in a law. No children allowed, obviously. Lots to work out and consider. Please write to

Last weekend we also celebrated the success of our town Girls 10U rec softball team—the Pine Plains All-Stars—at The Stissing Center. It began with a parade from the Bank to the Center, fielded by Officer Steven Camburn who stopped traffic for them. This is the first time we have ever sent a town rec team to State Finals, and their teamwork presided over by a team of dedicated coaches made all the difference in the outcome. I loved their “haha” routine meant to scare the competition. That competition is a part of their team too—as is the whole Town of Pine Plains who stopped the traffic, and made the arrangements and drove the cars and set up the party and contributed the money to send them to the finals. The diverse world Roger Payne would like to save is a part of our team too. Or should I say, we are all members of its team.

On Wednesday, our Seniors Group met over lunch and a presentation by Stan Hirson of some of his many films over the years about Pine Plains. If you have never seen any of this footage, you must go to the website and peruse it. Your relatives might be there. Stan has documented the last 30 years of life in Pine Plains and the stories are pretty darn incredible. We are so lucky to have this archive at our fingertips.

And yesterday we celebrated the retirement of Judy Harpp, our Town Clerk (and other duties) for 33 years. Many of you were married by Judy. I know because you stop in occasionally to say hello. She has filled out the marriage certificates and death certificates for generations of people here in Pine Plains, as keeper of the records of our lives. She will still be around coaching her team of one, the new town clerk, until December. Please stop in and wish her well.

And tonight there is a piano concert at The Stissing Center. I am ushering! Come sit in the air conditioning and hear beautiful music at 5:30pm

The best thing about the new Census findings is how it confirmed diversity here in the U.S. amongst the human species. The best observation I have made about us people is how diverse folks keep falling in love with each other.

Stay different, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

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Pine Plains Views in Video

A Video Portrait of a Small Town in Rural America

Pine Plains Views

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Photographs by Stan Hirson


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I came to Pine Plains by choice, not by chance of birth.

But the small-town rural community I chose is changing. The farmers have, for the most part, sold to people from the city and fields are becoming lawns.

And, like the land, people, too, are becoming subdivided as difference breeds distance rather than discourse.

I have been making these videos to preserve and reconstitute what I can of a changing way of life and to share it with the community.

On a more personal level, I am making this website as a way of holding on to the reasons why I came here.

Stan Hirson

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Dear Pine Plains 8.6.21

Dear Pine Plains,Few things get my Irish up as much as ignorant criticism of our Town Police. I happened to confront it last night and I would like to take some time here to once and for all put some old biased thinking to bed and bring everyone up-to-date on why we have our own police force, what they do, who they are and what they face on a daily basis.First of all, let’s talk about money. Were we to contract with the Sheriff’s Department for the same kind of coverage we have now, including extra days for parades and broken water pipes, etc., the cost would be approximately $100/hour. Yes, that is correct. Because that price is based on the officer’s pay, the car, the gas and insurance. We enjoy 5-8 hours of coverage a day, sometimes more, by our Town Police. (Northeast was quoted a sum of about $200,000/year two years ago for their part-time coverage.) Deputies would not necessarily be from Pine Plains nor would they have to adhere to our Police Policy, which is very much in keeping with our rural local culture and very geared to keeping peace as guardians, not warriors.Our annual budget for police work and equipment is $100,000. We get many more hours for that sum. Knowing our people here is key to policing here. Key to our Police Policy is the preference for hiring people who live in town and know our history. They love this place and its people, are raising families here and take a lot of that history into account when having to handle difficult situations that are often emotional.

Our biggest problems are with substance abuse and domestic violence. If this surprises you, it’s because our police do their jobs their best to de-escalate problems before they become newsworthy. They also go a long way towards helping people to never repeat their mistakes.

Here are our officers, in a nutshell:

Michael Beliveau: E-4 Army Specialist, Airborne Infantry, Iraq War; Albany County Sheriff, SWAT Team; certified (by NYS DCJS) instructor in Firearms, Patrol Rifle, Taser, Aerosol restraint, SWAT Tactics, Active Shooter, and more. Since 1999. Resident, Pine Plains.

Steven Camburn: E-4 Corporal, Marines; Combat Instructor, Tactical Operations, two tours in Iraq, numerous awards including Purple Heart, Navy Unit Presidential Citation, Navy Meritorious Unit, Meritorious Mast; PPFD firefighter; Senior Vice Commander, VFW. Since 2002. Resident, Pine Plains.

Mark Perrotta: Hyde Park Police Department assistant; Deputy Sheriff; heavy equipment operator. Since 1998. Resident: Pine Plains.

Officer-in-Charge Sgt. John Hughes: Trained by OICs Couse, Ladoceour, Haire, and Lawson; 14 years as Officer-in-Charge; numerous (too many to count) awards in firearms, conduct, drug enforcement, leadership. Beloved and respected by his officers. Since 1989. Resident: Stanfordville.

All of our officers train constantly, as per our new Police Policy, in use of weapons (a safety measure actually: the more familiar you are with how to use one, the more comfortable you are, the less you actually use one), in cultural bias, in de-escalation, domestic violence, procedural justice, NARCAN administration, and mental illness issues. Training takes place at least once a month. Sometimes more. We can train our own people, better and more often, rather than spend money going outside, since Officer Beliveau is a certified instructor. All of our officers can maintain our vehicles, which saves us even more money.

All that is left to say on this subject is how much good they have each done for this town. In my 3.5 years in office alone, I know that Officer Camburn has saved more than 4 lives with NARCAN, each a very loved son or daughter here. He has also been unable to save some. As you can imagine, that can be a devastating experience.  All of them have helped elderly folks with wildlife problems; stopped fights, helped settle disputes, counseled teenagers with errant ways and difficult family lives, stopped drunk drivers from killing anyone, de-escalated violent situations between partners and saved both of their lives, and been first on scene to some horrific crashes. That’s just a small sampling.

If you can’t speak highly enough of them after knowing all this, then come to Town Hall and I will show you the records. And give you more of a lecture.

Don’t forget new concerts at The Stissing Center, the Back Bar Beer Garden, and Chaseholm Farm, art and music events at The Platter, great food and drink at the newly open Champetre restaurant, Dutch’s Spirits, Lia’s, Tower Pizza, El Guacamole, The Moose on the Loose…

On the 8th, the Town Rec Girls 10U Team will be celebrated for their season which took them to State Finals with a short parade to the Stissing Center and awards at noon; on the 11th at 12 noon, we will host Seniors at the Community Center for lunch and a talk by Stan Hirson—featuring shorts from his award-winning films. Don’t forget that Town Clean-up Day is September 18th this year, and on 9/11 there will be a reading of the names lost in the attack at Town Hall in Stanfordville. So far, the County Fair is on. Wear your mask and fear not the crowds.

22 more Hometown Heroes will be going up around town in the next few weeks. And transport and installation of the fountain is being  at the new town park as I write this. And for all those curious about what’s going on at the old Deuels location, our historic weigh station is being renovated into an office and the scale is going to be brought back into use by anyone wanting to weigh something big. As in BIG. The main building is being stabilized and anything too ruined is being taken down. The whole place is in the process of being cleaned up.

And you have homework: read, on our website, about the Marijuana Law being proposed and send your opinion to AND read the zoning text changes being proposed for the public hearing on August 19th at 7pm during our next regular Town Board meeting.

Welcome to Pine Plains, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 7.30.21


Dear Pine Plains,

It’s time to talk about the new Marijuana Law. We are being pressured by the Governor to make a decision quickly on what we want to allow to happen in Town as regards sales and use. So I will try to simplify it as best I can.

In a nutshell, the Town has to make a decision as to whether or not to allow marijuana to be a) consumed in specifically licensed places (the way bars do alcohol); and b) sold in a dispensary, which would be regulated exactly like our liquor store. Our zoning would regulate where and what hours these entities would be open.

Sales tax collected on marijuana will be regulated at about 9% with 4% given back to the Town.

The Town Board would like your input on this subject.  At the very least, for now please write to me at and give me your two cents. I will collect the emails and pass them along. There is a power-point prepared by the Association of Towns attached at the bottom of this letter to further explain the new law and its requirements. Please stay tuned for further news on this.

On September 11th, the Stanford Fire Company will present a 20-year Memorial Tribute to the victims of  9/11/2001.
At 8:46am, a  pre-recorded, continuous-loop tape including the names of all 2977 lost souls, voiced by local students and community members,  will begin.    At 7pm, a brief ceremony culminating with the illumination of a candle below each of the 2977 flags, is scheduled. There will be an Honor Guard posted on site throughout the day.  If any local organization would like to participate in this show of respect,  please contact Ed Zick at 845-240-4044.

Every day the new Town Park gets better and better. Sue Robertson and her crew are doing a fantastic job with the guidance of an equally fantastic Town Beautification Committee. It looks like the fountain being designed and built by Tim Jones will be installed sometime next week.

We lost two more really important citizens of Pine Plains in the last two weeks—Rick Jackson and Antonina Mirto. Both they and their families have made huge contributions to the Town and we mourn their passing. Preserving their history feels particularly important to the future of the Town right now.

Don’t forget to attend the last scoping meeting for the Hudson Valley Project which takes place tomorrow, Saturday the 31st, at the high school. You can arrive at 9am to view maps and ask questions of the planners for the project. You are invited to ask for impacts to be studied for the DEIS. The meeting starts at 10am.

We are back to CDC Guidelines at Town Hall. If you are unvaccinated, please wear a mask here. If you are vaccinated and worried, wear a mask. Be careful out there! We want everything to remain open and with your help, we can do this.

Sunday begins International Clown Week! Wear your red noses over your masks and proudly, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act
Presented by
Sarah Brancatella, Counsel & Legislative Director
Topics for Today
General overview of MRT
State structure

Different types of licenses and how they interact with towns Personal

Social equity issues

  • Not getting in the weeds


MRT Overall

Legislates three different categories of products

  1. Adult Use Cannabis
  2. Medical Cannabis

Hemp / Cannabinoid Hemp (aka CBD)’ Significant changes to the Penal Code
‘ Significant changes to Tax Law
‘ Changes to Public Health Law

The Basics (Colloquially)

THC — the stuff that gets you high (technically a compound found in a cannabis plant)

Cannabis — Cannabis plant with THC level above.03 (technically 3 different types of cannabis plants)
Hemp- Has THC level below .03 (technically a type of cannabis plant – specifically Cannabis Sativa L) Not legal definitions

Control Board

Cannabis Control Board (CCB)
5 member board; chairperson and 2 others appointed by

Gov; 1 by Senate president; 1 by Assembly Speaker Duties include
Grant/revoke/limit licenses (CL
Draft regulations (CL              13)
Prepare an annual report basically on how things are going (CL
Full list Cannabis Law 10 (1)-(23)

Office of Cannabis Management

Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) established within Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (CL 8)

Executive Director appointed by CCB (CL 9)

  • Basic function is to assist CCB, review applications and make recommendations to the CCM on license applications
  • Maintain records and perform inspections

Full list on CL 11
Equity Officer and Advisory Board
State Equity Officer (CL 12)

  • Help CCM and OCM develop and implement social equity plan (more on that later)
  • Establish public education programming for certain communities on licensing process

State Cannabis Advisory Board     14)

13-member board: gov has 7 appointments, senate leader -3, assembly leader — 3

  • Ex officio reps from Ag and Markets, DEC, DOL, Office of Children and Family Services, DOH, DOE, Division of Housing and Community Renewal
  • Advise and issue recommendations on medical, adult use, and hemp
  • Administer community grants reinvestment fund (more on that later) AOT

Medical Cannabis

Patients can be certified by a practitioner that patient has a condition would benefit from medical cannabis      30)

Conditions defined — includes cancer, MS,Parkinson’s, PTSD, and “any other condition certified by a practitioner” (CL 3[18])
OCM will issue registry identification cards to patients or designated caregivers (CL 32)

Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis distributed by “registered organizations” (CL 34)
Registered organizations may also be licensed to sell adult-use (CL 39)

Difference between medical cannabis and adult use cannabis? Nothing from a chemical standpoint  Patient can grow more plants at home
Can be under 21
Considered a “disability” for certain purposes

Adult Use Cannabis

Multiple different types of adult use licenses


 Retail Dispensary


  • On-site consumption  And more !

Retail Dispensary & On Site Consumption — Local Opt Out
‘ Town can adopt a local law (applicable outside village) opting out of allowing retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption sites
‘ Must be adopted before 12/31/21

  • Subject to a permissive referendum under Municipal Home Rule Law 24 (CL 131


Retail Dispensary & On Site Consumption — Local Regulations

Town can adopt local laws placing restrictions on time/place/manner of retail dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments
Cannot make operation “unreasonably impracticable” as determined by CCM
• Preempted from regulating anything else or any other type of license / establishment
CL 131 (2)

Retail Dispensary & On Site Consumption

Notice continued…
Provides info like business name and DBA, address of establishment, what the application is for
(including transferring of license or license renewal  Muni has the option to submit an opinion for or against a license
Opinion becomes part of the official application record
Board must respond to muni with an explanation of how the opinion was considered in granting or denying the application

/ 22

Retail Dispensary & On Site Consumption

Cannot be within 500 feet of school or 200 feet house of worship (CL 7616]; 77[3])
Only sold to 21+; cannot sell to visibly intoxicated person (CL 85)

Notice to municipalities        76) Between 270 and 30 days before applying for a license, retail or on-site applicant has to notify municipality of intention to file
Goes to town clerk (or village if in village)  Done via certified mail, overnight delivery, or personal delivery

Taxing Cannabis

  • In addition to licensing fees etc. new series of taxes imposed


Some taxes based on total amount of THC in a product that a distributor sells to a retail establishment (see e.g. Tax Law 493 [a]

  • Towns care about the 4 0 0 tax imposed on sales from retail dispensaries to consumer (Tax Law 493 [c])


Taxing Cannabis


‘ Tax and Finance collects tax, distributes to comptroller, comptroller distributes to counties, counties distribute to towns/cities/villages (Tax Law 25 0 0 of funds stay with county; 75 0 0 remaining distributed to towns, cities, and villages in proportion to sales from retail dispensaries with jurisdiction

Taxing Cannabis


If a town and village both allow retail sales within jurisdiction and the dispensary is in the village then the money will be distributed in accordance with an agreement between the town and village Default is 50/50 split if no agreement
County must distribute money quarterly no later than 30 days after getting it from Comptroller
Tax Law 496-b[bl [21

Personal Cultivation and Possession

21 and older can have 30z of cannabis or up to
24g concentrated cannabis on person (Penal Law 222.05)

Individual can grow 3 mature plants and 3 immature plants Cannot have more than 12 plants per property
Take reasonable steps to ensure under 21 does not have access (Penal Law 222.15)
Personal Cultivation

Town can enact laws to “reasonably regulate the actions and conduct of [personal cultivation] ”  Violation of local law cannot exceed $200 civil penalty Cannot prohibit personal cultivation
Home growth not authorized until 18 months after the opening of the first adult-use dispensaries
OCM will also issue regulations on personal cultivation (Penal Law 222.15[7])
Where can you smoke?
Can prohibit smoking cannabis where smoking is prohibited (CL 2)

Smoking prohibited in certain areas in accordance with Public Health Law Article 13-e

  • Bars, public transportation etc.
  • NOT allowed to smoke in vehicles

Town can prohibit smoking overall in space like town park or town buildings

What about hemp?
Cannabis Law Article 4 regulates manufacturing and sale of cannabinoid hemp products (products containing cannabidiol or “CBD”)
OCM will implement basic consumer protections to ensure cannabinoid hemp products are properly manufactured, laboratory tested and accurately labeled
Have to apply for a license to sell CBD (Cannabis Law

Social Equity Programs

Social equity program will be put together by
Social Equity Officer / CCB / OCM
Prioritize applications from applicants from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis enforcement, women, minorities, distressed farmers etc. (CL 87)
After money taken out to run cannabis program 40 0 0 of remaining money goes to state lottery program for grants for school districts
200 0 to drug treatment and public education fund
400 0 to community grants reinvestment fund
State Finance Law 99-kk