Dear Pine Plains 1.24.2020

Dear Pine Plains,
Today I got a very nice letter from County Executive Marcus Molinaro, appointing me to the Dutchess County Community Development Advisory Committee. This committee works directly with Dutchess County Planning and helps towns in the County build and improve. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of this committee. Little do they know that I can rarely even find my cell phone…
The surveys for the Sewer Feasibility Study are going out this Monday in bulk. About 100 residents and businesses will receive a survey based on where they live. Along with the Survey, there is a cover letter explaining the need for wastewater treatment in small towns. I thought I would include it here in case you’d like to read it early on. When we revised the Comprehensive Plan this past year, we also sent out a survey, and many of the answers were delightfully delighted as to what people loved about the Town and where they want to see it go. In a nutshell, the majority said this: We like Pine Plains just the way it is—except we’d like it to be just a little better. That will take a lot of hard work on the part of our boards and citizens, but the groundwork for economic development anywhere in New York State is sound wastewater management. Without it, new business can’t come to town, old business can’t expand, and groundwater, and therefore wells, are at risk. People of modest means cannot open new businesses here because they can’t afford the expanded septic requirements over which the Department of Health rules. Read the letter at the end of this one for more information. There will be an informal information meeting at 7pm at the Community Center February 10th for anyone who has questions.
The Study is just that—a study. It is a gathering of information to discern how much a system might cost to build here, what kind of system might be best for our particular soil and land, and whether it truly is a feasible project for us to undertake. No referendum can take place on a project for which there is no information. Research is the mission of the Study. There are many new innovative ways to deal with wastewater, and the State and the County are strongly encouraging and supporting this, and making it a priority.
Tonight at 6:30 at the Library, the Little Nine Partners are holding a lecture on Pine Plains History and the Civil War. Come listen to our fascinating Town Historians as they talk about the people from Pine Plains who went to fight.
And finally, now is the time to begin saying good-bye to the pine tree in our town park. It has alas grown too big for where it is, and withstood too many storms that took down essential branches. Nelson Zayas will bless it before it comes down, and we will replace it with a new, smaller tree and a new Town Park as soon as the Beautification Committee gets going again in the spring. This tree has been a delight for many years, and offers to make furniture and other items from its wood have come in from local artisans. We will remember it.
Hug a tree in its honor, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud
Dear Residents and Business Owners,
Over the years, the people of Pine Plains have expressed interest in the Town building a wastewater
management system to replace aging septics and under-sized septic systems to allow for more
business and residential possibilities in our downtown area while at the same time maintaining the
rural character of the town. Currently, most businesses are operating with systems that are too small
for any kind of expanded use, or varied use. The Department of Health has changed its rules about
the size of systems and now requires 100% expansion room for any new system, or renovated
system. This means you must have 2 times the available property space to build/rebuild a system.
Many of our properties in the downtown have no room for systems big enough to serve things like
new or expanded restaurants, a dog groomer, or any business that requires water usage or serves
more than 12 people. (Example: El Guacamole was told to take out seating which had been in their
building for years—their system was deemed too small for more than 12 people. They had to tear
out seating, and were not allowed to put tables on their porch.) The town has recently missed out on
some wonderful new businesses coming in because of this limitation. Lack of space for septic
systems has also prevented the locating of multi-unit residential buildings in the hamlet.
Perhaps most importantly, old systems that do not treat wastewater adequately shed water with the
medicines people take as well as poisons they send into their sinks into our groundwater, which
affects the safety of well water. Many people in Pine Plains are still using wells for drinking water.
We are now in the research phase of enquiry into a project like this. This system might be a
conventional sewer system or it might be a community septic system; it might be large or small. It
might be located in one area or comprised of 2 or 3 small sites. In order to determine what
innovative ideas are out there for building something of this type here, and where it might be best to
locate such a system, what that would cost, and what grants and low-interest loan opportunities
there are for us to build it, we are conducting a Sewer Feasibility Study. This study is being funded
with grant money received from Dutchess County and the NYS DEC.
Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated. Results will be published upon its conclusion.
You are invited to an informal town-wide meeting on February 10th at 7pm at the Community
Center to discuss the possible project as well as to a later town-wide meeting to discuss
survey results. Look for that date on Facebook/newsletter/posters/Millbrook News.
The Pine Plains Town Board