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Dear Pine Plains 1.29.21

Dear Pine Plains 1.29.21

Dear Pine Plains,

We got a lot done at the last Town Board Meeting, in particular the passing of a resolution to go into contract with BFJ Planning to handle our Zoning Review, which means we are commencing this work immediately. Right now, we are gathering the “problems” which have cropped up in the last 10 years with the zoning that went into place back then. Before that, the town had no zoning.

So, after a decade, we can see what works and what doesn’t, and now we can fix that which doesn’t. To that end, if you have input on that, please write to me or Mike Stabile, Chair of our Planning Board. Our beautiful updated Comprehensive Plan cited 2 pages of suggested changes and we have been gathering more ideas since we passed the Plan last year. For example, there is conflicting wording in the zoning on accessory buildings that appears to prevent people from turning them into rental housing, which we sorely need. The income from an apartment on a property here might mean the difference between being able to stay in Pine Plains and having to move. Open land adjacent to neighborhoods with small-lot zoning are zoned differently, which prevents development into new housing that would be a part of those neighborhoods. At the same time we hope to strengthen our commitment to local businesses via more distinct zoning rules. Things like this are what we intend to address.

Another big change we made was in the structure of our Recreation Committee. The new Committee met for the first time Wednesday night and the air was filled with exciting new ideas and great energy. I want to thank all who volunteered to be on this Committee and look forward to reporting here on their innovations.

Please sign up for One Call Now by sending Alice your best way to be contacted in the event of an emergency. At times, for instance, the water department has to shut off water for a few hours for repairs. This system is a way for the Town to alert you to things like that. You can choose text, call or email.

The Little Nine Partners Historical Society was recently cited for valor in the preservation of history in northeast Dutchess County, and received a commendation from the State. Congratulations to this hearty group led by Dyan Wapnick, tireless font of local history. I can’t wait until the next Cemetery Tours.

Pine Plains has done a decent job of keeping Covid numbers down in comparison to other towns that surround us. The vaccination situation is so frustrating that we can’t even figure out how to help people. Last Tuesday, we were told that our police could sign up for vaccinations at 4pm—by 4:09 all 600 vaccine appointments were gone. Needless to say, I wish I could hire a tireless nerd to come sit in front of a computer and sign Pine Plainsians up to receive vaccinations, but that is not possible. It takes that kind of vigilance, however, to get an appointment. Especially one nearby. And if you don’t have a computer… Hopefully we will see a change in all this as more vaccine becomes available. Sit tight. By the way, domestic violence is up nationally  37% since the pandemic began.

I met a documentary filmmaker this week who told me that Bergen, Norway has a Philosopher of Loneliness. He told her that there are 7 emotions that register on the human face, but loneliness is not one of them. Hence, it is hard to detect in people you see. In England, there is an Ambassador of Loneliness. And in studies they have done, it seems that people who live in places of like means tend to be less lonely than those who live in economically divided places. Oddly, zoning becomes one very important tool in the preservation of equity in a community, therefore. I am very excited to welcome the Zoning Review here.

Reach out. You never know when a simple act might avert some loneliness, at least for a moment.

Stay connected, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud

PS: OLD LIBRARY NEWS! Read their BLOG below!