Tag: solar law

Supervisor’s Statement 5.16.19

SUPERVISOR’S STATEMENT

 

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 5.10.19

Dear Pine Plains,

It’s raining, again, as I write this. It makes the colors of spring all that much more vibrant. Right? I never mind walking in the rain, but…

This past week, the Comprehensive Plan Review committee (or CPR as I like to refer to it) met again to work on our survey questions, which should be ready to go out very soon. They will be available in a Survey Monkey online or at the Library, and the sooner you can fill them out and return them, the sooner we have town input to work with. Stay tuned for that! Remember: the Comprehensive Plan is a visionary document. It identifies the town and hence what we can do to bring about a future which protects that identity. It is not zoning, but it affects what we can do about zoning. We meet generally at noon on Tuesdays for now. Anyone can attend and watch.

The Solar Law Committee also met. We are very close to some fine recommendations for drafting our Solar Law. These laws address solar panels and arrays via a 3 Tier approach. Tier 1 is for personal solar panels on rooftops in town; Tier 2 is for ground-mounted solar on farms and outside the hamlet; and Tier 3 is for large parcels of land. Our task is to protect neighbors, homeowners and the landscape and to promote the usage of solar power at the same time!

Tonight is the art show put on by Chanorth, which is an artist’s retreat located at the old Spruce Farm house on 199 just west of the hamlet. At 7pm, you can see their work displayed with a discussion at the Community Center. The Chanorth Art Center brings artists to town for periods of time to work on their own projects. I am dreaming of some kind of collaboration with artists to bring art into the hamlet. Anyone with ideas please contact me.

There is now yoga at the Community Center on Saturday mornings at 8:30am as well as on Monday nights. I have been going for awhile and can now touch my toes. A triumph! Thank you, Nichole Martini and Jordan Schmidt, instructors.

Coming up next week: on the 13th, the last home game for the girls basketball team will be played at the high school at 4:30. Go and lend your support. At 7:00 Wednesday the 15th at the Community Center, Abby Nathanson will be giving a report from the Border with Mexico, where she has traveled and assisted with the crisis there. This should be fascinating and informative.

Town Board Meeting is next week too, Thursday night at 7pm. On the docket: Martin Handler, School Superintendent, to explain the budget proposal and answer pertinent questions; and visitors from Habitat for Humanity to discuss affordable housing.

SAVE 2 DATES: JUNE 5TH 5:30-7:30 AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUMMIT at the Community Center and JUNE 17TH COMPREHENSIVE PLAN PUBLIC MEETING at the Community Center.

Stay informed, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

 

State of the Town 2019

Established a TOWN EMAIL delivered most Fridays of the year; now have over 100 members on the list; all welcome to sign up on our new WEBSITE which we got up and running as well.

Passed Cold War Veterans Real Property Tax Law Exemption

Lease with Library

Began setting up the first of 3 forums with the Durst Organization with the result that they are re-designing the entire project as a passive solar healthy lifestyle resort/development. Project Manager Lisa Baker has been coming to town ever since, meeting with people at various locations to discuss their ideas. This will continue.  We are in touch with her on a weekly basis.

Became a Climate Smart Community. As part of this, we installed an EV Charging Station behind the bank as a way to draw people with elector cars—who are often healthy lifestyle folks—to visit our town. Because it takes a few hours to charge the cars, they stay and eat and shop. Drew attended Climate Smart Code Enforcement, and we approved LED lighting for the rest of our lights which will be a savings of about $6000/year in utility costs.

Passed our Trails Report which paves the way for zoning creation of trails

Passed a Deferred Compensation Plan for town employees and a short-term disability insurance program.

Saw the County repair our bridge on Route 83 and the State repair the west side of 199.

Bought tasers with a grant for PD and created Taser Policy; hired Michael Belliveau to the Town Police; and hired Kerry Yamashita as special prosecutor for our court. Her work has cleaned up the process for us and we are really lucky to have her. 

Water Dept dealt with numerous leaks and bad meters and saved town a lot of money. 

Wilson Endurance took over the Triathlon; very well run and they hope for a bigger turnout this year. Events like this are a part of our economic development.

PPMH is also a part of our economic development. Contrary to what some people believe, this is a 501c3 enterprise, not a profit-making organization, but a charitable one. It is a real gift to Pine Plains and something everyone can be a part of and contribute to either monetarily or with work. It will bring concert-goers and art lovers to town as well as music and art. 

Once again our Summer Camp was awesome, and the added middle school program was very successful. We re-paved the basketball court and added Pickleball to its capacity. We bought and installed an ice rink at the ball fields which is already very popular.  

We are trying to buy the Ruth Pulver House on the north side of the municipal parking lot, and await very slow response on this.

We made a deal with American Tower to lease our cell tower for the next 40 years. Helped add Dutchess Views Farm to the Land Conservancy and still have not sold the Old Library. We did shut it down this winter in order to save approximately $2400 in utility costs.

We created additional Town Board Workshop meetings every month, which have tackled highway department issues, solar law, etc.

We started a Town Clean-up Day to which Lenny Liberta donated the dumpsters. This was very successful and we plan to do it every year from now on. The brush pile was finally chipped up and townsfolk invited to take what they want for their gardens. 

A family of beavers was apprehended cutting the ropes at the beach. Due to the high cost of incarceration it was determined that they be transported to higher ground. 

New town signs were built and installed by Anthony Silvia for cost as an expression of his love for Pine Plains.

We passed resolutions to create Saturday hours for the Town Clerk—2nd and 4th from 10-12—come see Judy or she’ll be lonely—and to repair the beach septic system. 

We passed an updates sexual harassment policy and a new Investment Policy and invested our Fund Balance at a rate of over 2%, which could garner as much as $20,000 year revenue for the town. Bought a new Tractor for the Highways Dept. Invited a CAPE drug addiction counselor to town with the help of Gregg Pulver for funding.

Businesses have been sponsoring banners at the recreation fields.

Thanks to the following people for all their dedication to Pine Plains: outgoing Christi Acker, Nancy Proper, Bob Cordella, Kathy Rigano and Peter Salerno and incoming Ibis Guzman, Tricia Devine, Lori Patricola, Sandy Koch and Lynda Wisdo. Jim Mara will step down as chair of our assessors to be replaced by Rich Diaz. Our gratitude to both men.

Thank you go to Anthony Silvia for our beautiful new town signs;

to George McGhee for re-painting our historic signs; 

to Lenny Liberta for all his help with Town Clean-up Day; Vinnie Parliman and Mike Coons for their help that day as well, and everyone who brought their junk to the dumpsters; 

to Dennis Williams for maintaining our town clock after the death of Greg McEldowney; 

and to our fire department for their dedication to our citizens in need, our highway department ditto, our police department, all our volunteers and board members for your energy and wisdom: you keep Pine Plains running well and happily and make it the wonderful place that it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Pine Plains, 1.18.19

Dear Pine Plains,

All morning I sat in the supervisor’s office fielding phone calls from the press about the life of Shannon Smith Kent, a native of Pine Plains, a decorated Navy cryptologist stationed in Syria, who died in the attack there. I dearly hope I took some of the chaos off the shoulders of her wonderful family, her mother a friend and fellow writer and teacher, her father head of State Troopers in our region. We are so heartbroken about this loss. But what a life she led. What courage and vitality it took for her to live so far away in such a dangerous place and find the kind of important work that few ever get to do. How much a product of this particular place and her parents she was. The town of Pine Plains will miss her. Flags are flying at half mast in her honor.

This week, we held our Re-Organization meeting for the year as well as our Town Board meeting. Catch the film version. It will keep you on the edge of your seats.

The ice rink is already popular with many skaters. It’s down at the recreation fields opposite the beach. We are closing in on lighting for the area too. If you have any old skates to donate, we are gathering them to distribute to growing kids in an exchange program. We will ask people to use them until they don’t fit anymore then exchange them for the next sizes if we have them, thereby keeping a bank of skates in perpetual loan-out.

We passed the creation of our Solar Law Task Force, and held a workshop meeting with the town board to gather their feelings about solar power in and around Pine Plains.

Look for a public Workshop meeting on a possible nuisance law that would pertain only to the hamlet and off-road vehicles in back yards. The Town Board wants input from townspeople on this.

In the meantime, Lisa Baker was in town on Tuesday for breakfast at the Platter to discuss the Carvel Development. New redesigned plans are expected to arrive about a year from now.

With renewed energy, we will strive to write grants this year for economic development drivers such as a community septic system for our downtown, beach repair, and lake preservation. We dream of affordable housing and town hall re-located to our downtown every day. There is so much to do!

We are expecting 6-12 inches of wet snow this weekend, so tuck in for being unable to get out. As this will be a long weekend for the King holiday, I suggest a visit to the library for a pile of books. (And Peck’s for popcorn!) Speaking of the library, look for some exciting news on our work with the library in conjunction with the Pine Plains Memorial Hall. Think Pine Plains Pop-Up Learning!

And stay upright on those skates, Pine Plains!

Darrah Cloud

Dear Pine Plains 12.28.18

Dear Pine Plains,

At our last Town Board meeting, we spoke about numerous concerns which the town is facing. We will be putting together our Solar Law very soon, and will have a Workshop Meeting to discuss our goals on January 14th at 7pm. This is open to everybody.

We will soon be inviting the Council on Addiction Prevention & Education counselor CaraMia Bachiocchi to town to meet those who are struggling with addiction. At the moment, all we have to do is to decide on a good location where people feel safe to talk with her. If you want to try to understand better what parents and addicts are dealing with alike, try to see the movie Ben Is Back. Maybe not the greatest movie in the world, but very accurate to the experience.

LED lighting was approved by the Town Board on December 10th. Look for Central Hudson to be out replacing bulbs. This will save the town a significant amount of money each year in electricity costs (approx.. $6000/yr) and pay for itself in 3 years.

The Re-organization Meeting will take place right before the next Town Board Meeting on January 17th, 2019.

As the New Year approaches, we thought you’d like to know about ways you can contribute to Our Town and Beyond which don’t require anything from you but time. Here we go:

1)         Volunteer to drive the van for the Northeast Community Center out of Millerton serving our area—they take people to doctor’s appointments, shopping, anywhere they need to go when they can’t drive themselves.

2)         Get on a committee for the town—or form one! See something you’d like to have happen? How about preserving our history here, and helping to maintain the old scale, finding a place to display our 1897 LaFrance Fire Truck, keeping the Graham-Brush house up, getting involved in creating this walking museum of wonderful places? How about a marketing committee? Get the word out about Pine Plains in a way that attracts people to the things we want to preserve the most?

3)         Find out what they are doing to help people at your local church. The Food Bank runs out of the Methodist Church, for example…

4)         Volunteer to coach a team for our Recreation Department.

5)         Volunteer to help with the Community Garden, which is located down at Town Hall.

6)         Volunteer at the Library, join the historical society, help FOSL maintain their projects…

7)         Help write grants—if you’re good with engineering and creating specs, good with IT, good with writing, the only way small towns can achieve big things is with grant money!

8)         Volunteer next year for Town Clean-up Day: we will need people with trucks to pick up large items for folks who can’t bring them in themselves.

9)         Attend Town Board Meetings and voice your opinion. We film all the meetings but there’s nothing like being there in person.

Things like this are an enormous help to the community and gratefully appreciated. You don’t have to be rich in Pine Plains to be essential, welcome, and necessary to our economic development and to our hearts. And it’s a great way to meet new people.

Let’s work together, Pine Plains!

Updates on the October 18, 2018 TB Meeting!

The fire at Millerhurst was devastating to the Miller family, who have been on that land for close to 300 years. But it was also devastating to the many, many kids the Millers have mentored as junior farmers. As Emily Miller wrote, the cows all had names and lots of them grew up alongside our children here as friends and show animals. The Town has set up a memorial at the Gazebo for any and all to bring memories, flowers, drawings or photos to share with others. There’s a large pot of chrysanthemums on the top step waiting for more things. If your child feels sad, let him or her make something as a tribute and leave it there for all of us to ponder. What this fire did though to our thinking at this moment is bring home the power of community in tragic times. People have raised over $100,000 at this moment in the 4 days since the fire to give to the family. A mealtrain was set up. There are fundraisers to attend. There are jars at every restaurant collecting money to contribute. This is an homage to the Miller Family and all that they’ve done for our kids over the years, keeping our agricultural roots alive in our schools and the community. They are exemplary of what makes Pine Plains Pine Plains.

We gave a very heartfelt thanks to a citizen who took it upon himself to re-paint the historic landmark signs all around the area, George McGhee. We are the town and what we do matters here. Again, that’s what makes Pine Plains Pine Plains!

We thanked Kevin Walsh and John Hoffman for their vigilance in looking out for our environment here, and helping out with both lake preservation and our new impending solar law.

We hired Tricia Devine for the position of Planning and Zoning Board Secretary and who comes to us from a plethora of jobs overqualifying her for the position. Tricia and her family just moved here a year ago. She also helps run Farview Tree Service with her husband, arborist Sean.

Since our last meeting, I went down to New York to get a tour of the Dursts’ One Bryant Place to see how they build. The place is awesome. Beehives on the roof, rooftop farming, composting of household waste which gets sent to McEnroe’s and ice-making to keep the building cool in summer and get off the grid a bit more, which helps the whole city deal with surges in hot weather. This is what they do best, and they are beginning to realize that they can apply this to the development they want to build.

Budget Workshops/policy for budgeting: inflation is at 2.3%, cost of living is up 2.7%, cost of insurance of all kinds is up 20%, and oil and gas are up as well. We balanced wages with rises in costs, and did our best to give those who had not gotten raises in awhile at least something, while those who recently got raises will have to wait another year. Union contracts are usually set at a 2-3% raise every 3 years, and we will now try to give raises on a basis like that. The people we were able to give raises to hold positions which would become expensive for a variety of reasons were there turnover. Re-training is expensive as is overtime when someone has 2 jobs and chooses to work the one that pays the most and others have to cover for him; our town accountant stressed this as we poured over the budget. At this point, any change will cause a raise in taxes that would be a hardship to many people. That said, we will need to raise taxes a bit in order to stop pulling money from the Fund Balance to balance our budget. That money ought to be going for town improvements. The Proposed Preliminary Budget is available for perusal at Town Hall in the Town Clerk’s office, open 10-1:15 M-F.

We set up Saturday hours for the Town Clerk’s office, beginning in November. More details soon to come.

We are asking for bids for testing Stissing Lake’s vegetation.

We presented an updated Harassment Policy to the Town Board for consideration.

 And today, Friday the 19th, we officially commissioned our new ERV Charging Station behind the Bank of Millbrook!