Dear Pine Plains 10.26.2019

Dear Pine Plains,

The word of the week this week is “networking”. In building affordable housing, to be exact. I have been attending the Land Use Law Center’s Affordable Housing Training, and last Friday we separated into tables of 6 and worked on developing a plot of open land in a particular community. I got to be at the rural table. We had a lot of fun mandating that the developer build sidewalks and improve a road, put in extra parking and use an existent old building to create new affordable housing at an old school grounds. It gave me entry into planner thinking, but also into how to create affordable housing someone might actually want to live in.

This Friday, I attended an Affordable Housing Summit led by Didi Barrett which involved a possible network of 4 towns, Pine Plains, Ancram, Copake and Northeast, in a discussion with the State Finance Department and 4 builders. The Durst Organization was there. We talked about the zoning required, and in-fill housing, which would put to use small open tracts of land in the hamlet. I know I have spoken about this before, but this forum put us all in a room for the first time in a way that made it clear that we might form a coalition to build more cheaply. The design for the homes is flexible, but the idea is to build passive energy homes which cost $125/month in utilities—that’s right, $125/month. This makes home ownership possible for people with good incomes, but who don’t have enough left over for the utilities after the mortgage payment. These are 2-family homes, and 2 of them would bring 4 families into Pine Plains to help lower taxes. In addition, it would help the surrounding farmland from being cut-up and be better for the environment, because Pine Plains is walkable and people wouldn’t have to get into their cars to come shop.

Our assignment: for this to work, each town needs to update their zoning and find 2 lots. If you have land you could donate (in town) please let me know; if you have a lot that might go for relatively little, let me know. If you like/hate this idea, let me know. These homes are called “zero-lot-line” homes, meaning they have a shared wall, but the homeowner would own his/her own land around it. You can go see a prototype in Ancramdale across from the Post Office, and ask for a tour. Theirs is being built by Habitat for Humanity. (Numerous restrictions for income level.) Ours would not have to be if we can make this coalition work.

I am working on new rental housing as well, and will update you on that when more information is at hand.

Tonight, the Library is hosting its Silent Auction at the Stissing House. If you have never been to one of these, here’s the scoop: you get a glass of wine and walk around tables and look at what’s being offered, then bid on something. You bid ridiculous amounts of money for simple things. You meet new people and you help the Library enormously because all the money you pay for things goes right to them, mainly for new programming and a new helper. Our library has become the center of culture here in town for all things educational, and it is constantly hopping with activities for children and adults alike. In this age when lots of people love to say that libraries are dead because everyone is on the internet, our library keeps community alive by inviting everyone to gather and pursue new interests. It will also be a center for the 2020 Census, with computers available for people who don’t have them to fill out their Census forms.

BRAVO to all who created and participated and attended the Cemetery Tours. They were even better than last year! When Mark Jackson came out of Potter’s Field with his guitar, I cried. And for those who wanted to know what that hymn was sung in the show, it is How Can I Keep from Singing

Pine Plains has such a beautiful history. Even if you did not grow up here, it connects us all in the legacy of our land, our businesses, and our homes.

Stay connected, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud