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Dear Pine Plains 2.12.21

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Dear Pine Plains,

It’s the birthday of Abraham Lincoln today, a fellow Illinoisan. I remember very well going on a field trip when I was in grammar school, down to Springfield to the Lincoln Museum, and feeling the enormity of his life and his influence on us. He once said: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

On Monday the 15th at 7pm we will hold a Town Board Workshop dedicated solely to launching the Zoning Review. We will be meeting on ZOOM with our planners from BFJ Planning to delineate the time schedule over the next half-year, each meeting date, the work to be done, and those problems with which the Town Board wants to charge our Zoning Review Committee to tackle. After ten years of ;living with our zoning law here it’s time to take a look at what needs tweaking and fixing in order to smooth the process for economic development in Pine Plains and make it easier to live here as long as we would like. Some items we will be examining are bringing large parcels contiguous to our hamlet and hamlet-residential neighborhoods into the same zoning as those neighborhoods. This will allow for new building opportunities, a little more density in the hamlet, which could have an impact on our tax bills by lowering them. We will be looking at auxiliary dwelling units, and fixing some discrepancies in where a homeowner who builds such a dwelling can live. We will be examining 5-acre zoning, purpose-driven zoning, the extension of the business-residential borders downtown,  and the possible elimination of the NND, among many other topics. Monday night we will discuss candidates for the committee in an executive session. This is the next step towards revitalization for the town since we completed work on the Comprehensive Plan Update last year and I am very excited to see some big problems solved in our zoning.

Abraham Lincoln said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

The Governor’s veto of a bill that would have made funds available for mapping Broadband access in all towns was a huge disappointment to a lot of people. The Broadband Committee has been doing their own mapping without the help of any agencies or internet companies, who have the actual maps of their networks, but who have not been forthcoming about sharing them. Proving that we are not completely served by the internet is seen as the first step in completing service in a town, so this has been essential work. The Committee continues to search for ways to bring high-speed internet to everyone in the town, not just those who live in the hamlet. As we all get used to working from home, we see that not as a trend but as a part of life now, and an important economic driver for Pine Plains.

Abraham Lincoln said: “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

Nasir is still waiting word on when vaccines arrive at the Pine Plains Pharmacy. If you want to sign up to receive one, please contact him to be put on the list. If you know someone who does not have email or pay attention to Facebook, where he posts regularly about this, please pass on this information.

Abraham Lincoln said: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

I hope you’ve noticed the work the new owner of the old Deuel’s buildings has been doing to restore our historic weigh station out in front of the old store. The old scale still works, and this will be one more stop to add to a walking tour of history in our town. Stop by if you see them out there hammering away.

Abraham Lincoln said: “Folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”

RFPs go out next week for taking down 8 and 12 N. Main, fixing the Hicks Hill slope and culvert, and repairing the drainage at the Highway Garage. Big ticket projects that will pave the way for bigger improvements in the future.

Abraham Lincoln said: “I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”

Finally, a huge thank you to our Highway crew, who have been out quite a bit this winter at all hours making sure you can drive safely around Pine Plains. It is a stellar year for our ice rink, but a tough year for them! The ice rink crew also deserves enormous thanks. If you haven’t been skating there yet, GO! I don’t think there’s a more beautiful spot to skate anywhere else. Hours fluctuate, but are generally around 9-12 and 4-7 most days, depending on weather. Help clearing snow is always welcome.

Abraham Lincoln said: “I am not concerned that you have fallen—I am concerned that you arise.”

Skate on, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud