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Tag: affordable housing

Supervisor Statement 11.21.2019

Supervisor’s Statement 11.21.2019

This has been a month of finalizing projects. The 2020 Budget, the Comprehensive Plan Update 2019. We are near the end of our work on the Solar Law and I completed my training on affordable housing with Pace University Law Center two weeks ago. Sarah and I have continued meeting with the Tri-town Affordable Housing Coalition in an effort to figure out what kind of affordable housing project might work best for Pine Plains and we are also working in conjunction with Copake, Ancram, and Millerton on some kind of partnership perhaps between the 4 towns for infill housing.
Other than that, Thanksgiving approaches and I’d like to thank all our wonderful volunteers for their work on behalf of the town this past year. This month, that includes in particular, everyone on the Recreation Committee, all those working on the Beautification Committee headed by Vicki Sorocco, which is making great progress on a design for the corner park; Sandy Towers, Lenora Champagne, Suzanne Ouellette for their work on the Community Garden which has really taken off, and supplies food to both the Food Locker and Willow Roots, a not-for-profit formed by Nelson and Lisa Zayas to help feed people on a weekly basis. Dyan Wapnick and Lenora Champagne were largely responsible for putting together this year’s Cemetery Tours in late October and I’d like to thank them for a fabulous experience getting to know more about the history of the town, which a lot of people came to and really enjoyed. Finally, I want to thank Matt Finley for his work on the Board of Assessment Review. Matt has been a part of this committee for 15 years and has done an outstanding job for the town. He’s been on many other committees as well, and his commitment to Pine Plains has been beyond the call of duty and is much appreciated.

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Dear Pine Plains 11.8.2019

Dear Pine Plains,


Communication is so difficult in our current world: people don’t trust the newspapers—and don’t read them anymore, social media is full of misinterpretations, rumors and bullies, very few people attend town board meetings or community meetings, and ignorance abounds about how town government works, what can be legislated, and what is actually going on. So I would like to ask you each for a favor now: would you please forward this letter to someone you think has not signed up for it, who would benefit from knowing what’s happening in Pine Plains? This comes from an examination of the vote count this past Tuesday. I ran unopposed, but there were a number of people who did not vote that line at all, or wrote in a name of someone who was not running. So, in my mind, that means we have disenfranchised folks who don’t care for “what’s going on” here, but may not actually know what’s going on. I imagine they might have valuable things to add to our conversation. I’d like to hear what they have to say.

The re-design of the Durst Project is moving along, and I spent 2 hours with their Project Manager Lisa Baker this morning, going over the timeline and their perspective on all the changes going on around town. When we do our Sewer Feasibility Study, we will also look into ways for the town to hook into the sewer treatment plant they intend to build. There are so many ideas on the table about how we might get the infrastructure to welcome new affordable housing, new businesses, and therefore lower taxes here. The Study commences soon.

I am now a graduate of the Land Use Law Center Affordable Housing Training. And I have a plaque that contains a quotation from Marcus Molinaro, who attended way back when he was a young mayor of Tivoli: “Building communities one conversation at a time.”

Monday is Veterans Day. If you’ve heard me speak on Memorial Day, you know that my dad served in the OSS during WWII, the precursor to the CIA. His job was to go under the lines, fake being a German soldier, and smuggle out people important to the Allies. He was 21 at the time. He never spoke about the work he did for our country, but he wore it every day. Sometimes deeply sad for no apparent reason, he was always kind, welcoming to strangers, and committed to his family, the company he started, and all the people who worked for him. He brought in profit-sharing at a time when nobody else was doing that. He was a classic Eisenhower Republican. Which is why I fervently believe in working “across the aisle” in everything I do for the Town. Labels don’t make the person; the lives we lead say everything.

Let us all remember what men and women in the service fought for every day, and ask ourselves this: is the life I am leading worth what they sacrificed? If you want to do more, come serve your town. Volunteer for a committee. Volunteer to coach. Become a part of Pine Plains.

Come to Town Hall for a cup of coffee and a conversation, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud


Supervisor’s Statement 5.16.19



Tax assessment letters went out this week. Just because the market value on your house went up does not therefore mean your taxes will go up. Please, if you feel upset or worried, go talk to our assessors. They are wonderful human beings like you, and their market values have gone up too. We have the best team in the County, and I can tell you, all the other towns are envious of our assessors. They’re open Tuesdays, Thursday, Friday morning and this Saturday morning, the 18th. Don’t sit at home fretting. Go find out the answers. And Grievance Day is Tuesday May 28th from 2pm-4 and 7pm-9 at Town Hall.

The Comprehensive Plan Review Survey is almost done. Our committee has been working diligently every Tuesday to pull together questions apropos of where we are now and what we might want to consider for the future now that so many things have been accomplished since 2004. In that time, the town has secured the preservation of most of our farmland and open space. Now is the time to work on downtown. When you receive your survey—which can be emailed to you as a Survey Monkey, or can be picked up at the Library as a paper survey, once again, do not think that taxes will go up because we are dreaming big. Dream Big and allow us to seek the help and funding from other sources for what we all want. And don’t forget June 17th at 7pm at the Community Center is our first Public Meeting on it. Come meet our new planners.

The Solar Law Committee is also very close in drawing up the regulations we want to see upheld in the Tier system these things require, addressing not only the roof-mounted in-town solar arrays we passed already, but ground-mounted, agricultural, and larger-scale arrays. Whereas we are encouraging the use of solar power here, we are protecting the landscape above all else. It may be that with the advent of more and more community solar projects, our residents can tap into that source for their electricity without having to build anything on their own.

Sarah and I traveled down to Pace Law School again for a very informative conference on affordable housing. There we met, among many other great people all working on this, a man from RUPCO, builders of the Woodstock Commons, a mixed-income development for seniors, young families and artists. Here is the thing to remember about affordable housing: it is not built to bring more people to town, it is built to keep people IN town. If people can afford to stay where they want to live, we will all feel a lot richer. He did ask me if we have a central wastewater system. Everything depends on that for new businesses and new housing to come in. No small town can afford to build these things are their own. That’s what grants are for.

Finally, I want to report on the Community Center. It is going great guns over there. People are renting it for birthday parties and baby showers, there’s Line Dancing on Thursdays and yoga and Tai Chi and the Book Sale Memorial weekend. Last night there was a lecture by a young woman who has been down on the border with Mexico, who gave a report on what’s happening there. It was extraordinary. We are so lucky to have this wonderful space.


Dear Pine Plains 5.3.19

Dear Pine Plains,

This week, the Comprehensive Plan Committee met again twice to discuss how to create the Survey which will be available to everyone to fill out regarding our vision for Pine Plains. As this will be an Update to our original, quite beautiful, Plan, we are working to tackle those issues which have arisen as a result of the zoning inspired by the 2004 Plan. We are also looking towards a future which has new threats on the horizon as well as new opportunities. SAVE THE DATE June 17th we will hold the Public Meeting on this at the Community Center at 7pm. All encouraged to attend.

The incredible Stan Hirson will be retiring as cinematographer of our Town Board meetings, as we announced awhile ago. We will of course still film our meetings, but the quality will be going way down. Basically, we will put a camera in place and hit the button. We are sorry to see Stan go. We have archives which look better than the Godfather films! (Note: that is a joke!)

Board member Sarah Jones and I traveled down to White Plains on Thursday to take part in an affordable housing summit at Pace Law School. We met representatives from RUPCO as well as Hudson River Housing and look forward to showing them the town. Check out what RUPCO has done at Woodstock Commons… I was told that developers want to tie in to existing waste management systems when looking for properties… which is why it is so hard for small rural communities with no systems in place to attract them.

We are also organizing the next iteration of the Affordable Housing Partnership with Northeast and Amenia, which will be held the last week of May here in town at the Community Center. Details to come as they are set.

That week will also include a reading to be given by the Pine Plains Writers Group. Come to the CC at 7pm May 29th to hear the writings of your neighbors and friends in a relaxed and wonderful evening hosted by the Friends of the Library. Cookies and coffee involved.

It seems like every spring I look around and say: this is the most beautiful spring ever! Sarah and I said this again yesterday as we sped back north on the Taconic towards home. It is hard to argue with the beauty of blooming trees.

Bloom on, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud






Dear Pine Plains 4.26.19

Dear Pine Plains,

Happy Arbor Day! Hug a tree! (This Town Supervisor confesses to actually having done that… no surprise!)

‘Twill be a rainy weekend, but don’t let that stop you from attending Opening Day at the ball fields, and signing up for Line Dancing at the Library starting May 2nd 6:30 pm for 5 weeks through the next month of Thursdays. Call Lori at 518-398-8600 ex1 to sign up!

This week we held our first meeting with our planners for the Comprehensive Plan Review, to take place over the next 6 months. We have a dynamic committee and will hold our first public meeting on June 17th at 7pm at the Community Center to get your thoughts on where the town is heading, and to talk about the Plan. You can access it on our website, All are invited. We will also distribute hard copies of our survey (a short one of approx.. 10-12 questions) as well as have them available online as a Survey Monkey for those who sign up. Start dreaming about the future and come to this meeting!

I had a meeting with Dennis Wedlick on Monday, and got a tour of the affordable passive solar housing he designed in Ancramdale. It’s really impressive. Technically, this is a side-by-side 2 family structure, with 1250 sq feet of space in each, 3 BR with the possibility for a 4th or a formal dining room, a laundry room on the 2nd floor and 2 baths. It is being built with volunteers as well as the new owner, which is all per the way Habitat for Humanity works. They follow the owner their entire lifetime in the house as well to make sure it is maintained. Dennis was excited by all the possibilities in Pine Plains for this type of housing. If you have a lot in town which you are willing to donate to a project like this, please let the town know.

Pine Day was tons of fun. We set up the craft table and adults and kids alike made houses for Little People while we all listened to talks on composting and tree care, and the history of our trees. It was raining outside and everything felt lush with creativity and new buds. On Sunday, I walked around town and delivered the Little Houses to sites all over downtown. Look for them before they fall apart! Veronica at the Library has the list…

The Recreation Department has tons of events lined up for the summer, so pay attention to their Facebook page but also our website for more details and sign up!

And save the date for the Comprehensive Plan Review Public Meeting June 17th.

Dream on, Pine Plains.

Darrah Cloud



Dear Pine Plains 4.5.2019

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I drove to Ellicotteville, NY to attend the Syracuse University’s annual conference on infrastructure funding. It was inspirational and helpful, and once again, I got to meet fantastic people who work in government and want more for their towns. It’s hard to be a rural town in upstate NY, and we are the focus of this conference, which is very welcome.

I drove home at breakneck speed to get here in time to set up the Community Room for Marcus Molinaro’s Town Hall Meeting, which we held Wednesday night. The County Executive spoke at length before a packed house about such topics as the new jail being built in Poughkeepsie, (we now often have to pay to send inmates to other counties due to the lack of facilities here), the Special Olympics (cutting funding for this in any way is WRONG), economic development, and the new Stabilization Center. This center has beds and help for people fighting the disease of addiction. Help is there 24/7 for anyone who wants it, and the new facility is a model for other counties. That brought up the subject of a doctor for Pine Plains. The Town Board has been involved in trying to find a doctor, a PA, or perhaps a company willing to put an Urgent Care facility in here, where the old doctor’s office used to be. The executive promised to try and help us with this. The Town Board was very pleased to host County Executive Molinaro in Pine Plains.

April 12th is the Conference on Affordable Housing to be held at the American Legion in Millerton 155 Route 144 from 8:30am-3pm. Hosted by the Northeast Community Center, this promises to be an impactful and thoughtful gathering. You can sign up for this at:

Today began with a nearly 3 hour meeting at the Moose with Gregg Pulver, Chairman of the Legislature, and Lisa Baker, Project Manager for the Durst Organization. As always—and as I said in my introduction for the County Executive, I am proud to be a part of the way government works in Dutchess County, and how we all collaborate, no matter what party we represent. This is unusual in the state and in the country and I think that’s what makes Dutchess County such a great place to live. My egg and cheese on a roll was really great.

Don’t forget Pine Day on the 20th. We are lining up speakers and a wonderful craft workshop, where people can make little houses for the Makiawisug, which Librarian Veronica and expert reader Nelson Zayas will be teaching us all about. Lectures on planting trees and composting and on actions we citizens can take to help us all survive climate change will be offered from 10-2pm. Please mark your calendars and bring children!

Peel back the winter mulch, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud







Dear Pine Plains 2.8.19

Dear Pine Plains,

This week I attended the monthly meeting of the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Association. It is a great resource for what other towns are doing, or not doing, and advice. As the rookie last year, I was drafted into becoming their Secretary, which suits my skill set and which I am happy to do. Hence, I am on the Board of this group. In that capacity, I get to go to meetings with the County Executive among other things. These meetings are usually rousing, opinionated, and thrilling. One of the main topics at both meetings was the fact that the proposed State budget for 2019 takes away State Aid for towns. This aid is called AIM. For Pine Plains, this is a loss of a budgeted $9,000+, which in a small town like this is a lot of money. If our AIM is cut, this will mean that the tax cap is exceeded and taxes will go up. Our group is writing a strong letter to the governor against eliminating this aid. Another topic at both meetings was ambulance service in Dutchess County. The County Executive is working on a Shared Service idea which would combine service for small towns in various areas at a rather heavy price. He warned us that this is coming in about a year. That said, there might be an opportunity for our Rescue Squad to become one of the providers of this service, which means they could be paid for their work.  I will certainly advocate for that if allowed. More on this as his plan is revealed. At issue also is the tax cap. The history of the tax cap is that it was imposed on school districts to keep them from going overboard, then imposed on towns in order to be equitable. Putting the tax cap into permanent status is on the table right now. Our feeling is that the tax cap should not include capital projects, which greatly inflate our budgets. Those are just a few of the things we discussed at both meetings. I believe that this is a very valuable association for Pine Plains to be a part of, and it’s always exciting to go down to the County Building and meet with CE Molinaro and his staff.

We had our first meeting of Group of Strangers on Thursday. From 1-2pm every Thursday, Addiction Recovery Coach CaraMia Bacchiochi will be here to just sit and talk with people about addiction. She’s a wise person and this is a safe space to talk about anything. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, and are reticent to talk with her, remember this: the stigma of being an addict is what prevents us from getting help when we need it. And if you think that no one knows what you’re going through in a small town, consider this: everyone knows. So take the first step and go talk to CaraMia!

I sat down with advocate Sam Busselle to discuss affordable housing this week as well. Sam helped start the Northeast Community Center in Millerton, which among other things, helps transport people from Pine Plains to their doctor appointments and the VA via their Dial-a-Ride program. He is trying to put together a collaborative approach for this between 3 towns. He is sponsoring a conference April 12th in Millerton on the subject and we will be in attendance. He is looking for interested investors. There is a lot of innovative action in this area including passive solar homes being built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity at a cost of around $140,000.

So many balls in the air, so little time!

Stay juggling, Pine Plains!