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Dear Pine Plains 9.17.21

9.17.2021

Dear Pine Plains,

Don’t forget Town Clean-up Day tomorrow, 8am to 2pm. Get rid of your dad’s old Barcalounger that’s been sitting in the garage molding. Thank you, Lenny Liberta, for once again donating the dumpsters and the drivers. The Presbyterian Church is holding a roast beef dinner for pick-up next weekend, so plan for that. Let them know what you need. And there is chamber music at the Stissing Center this weekend. La!

I have a few New Age pals who like to say that you can change your destiny. I think of myself as Old Age, but I love that paradox of language. And last night the Town Board did change the destiny of the Town by voting in the first round of zoning text changes recommended by our Zoning Review Committee, which will loosen the grip of zoning on a number of properties and projects around Pine Plains. In particular, I know it is our hope that people will be able to use the new accessory dwelling unit law to turn a small barn or garage into an apartment for a starter family or a senior to live in, thus enhancing available affordable housing in the hamlet. Contact our Zoning Code Officer/Building Inspector Drew Weaver if you’d like to learn more about how to do this.

The other laws we passed and did not pass have to do with marijuana lounges and dispensaries. This Board did much research on the subject to best represent what the response was to the subject by townspeople. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to having a dispensary here. On-site consumption not so much. A few points really stood out in forming our decision: a) the State is regulating marijuana the way it does alcohol with numerous restrictions on where it can be sold and used; b) were we to opt-out of allowing a dispensary here, we would lose our place in a long line and years long process of putting out licenses and forming regulations; c) that process if we opt-in will take enough time that we will have plenty of time ourselves to regulate and zone the location of a dispensary. With this reasoning in mind as well as the benefit of the sales tax on marijuana of 4% for the Town, the Board voted to opt-in for allowing a dispensary here and opt-out of allowing on-site consumption of marijuana.

The Durst Organization is about to come back with their incorporation of citizens’ comments as a result of their scoping meetings, further affirming our collaboration with them on their Hudson Valley Project. The Planning Board, a group of citizens charged with oversight of all the building in the town, is the key to this collaboration and their careful decisions along the way could help to create an historic kind of development that is environmentally positive rather than exploitive.

All these decisions come out of a huge commitment to Pine Plains and a lot of hard work on the parts of numerous volunteers as well as the people we’ve hired to help us. The work has been collegial and imperative for the right kind of growth in Pine Plains in keeping with fulfilling the dreams of our Comprehensive Plan. When you look at a town with empty storefronts downtown, and broken roads, and a dollar store on the outskirts, you can see a destiny in that. It takes courage and hard, obsessive work to change that destiny.

Let’s make good history, Pine Plains!
Darrah Cloud