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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