News from Town Hall

The goal of this newsletter is to share a bit of local news and highlight some of the interesting things that are happening in Hillsdale and nearby.
Welcome Roe Jan Brewery
We’ve all been marveling at the 20-month transformation of an 1851 gem of a structure –  the former Hillsdale Mercantile building. What seemed like a structure destined for a slow ruin is now vibrant and fully restored. It houses Hillsdale’s newest business – the Roe Jan Brewery Company.

We all wish proprietors Kathy and Steve Bluestone much success and extend our gratitude for their tenacity and investment in our town.
CAC Releases Final NRI
The final version of Hillsdale’s Natural Resource Inventory will be presented to the Town at an open meeting on Thursday, March 25 at 7 pm at Town Hall.
All 203 pages of descriptions, maps, photographs, and explanations of Hillsdale’s natural features – forests, farms, fields, streams, wetlands, and their animal and plant inhabitants – is available at the link below. The NRI is the result of more than two and a half years of hard work by our Conservation Advisory Council and its consultants.
The March 25 meeting is an opportunity to learn more about the wealth of information contained in the document. There will also be a small number of print copies of the NRI available for purchase by anyone attending the meeting – first come, first served. (The copies will be available at cost, approximately $22.)
Light refreshments will be served.
Creation of the Hillsdale NRI was made possible by funding from the New York State Environmental Fund through a grant to the Town from the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Columbia County Department of Health is actively monitoring for potential cases of the Coronavirus and is taking precautions to limit the impact if the virus is found in Columbia County. Screening protocols are in place and guidance has been established for both health care providers and the general public. Although we are still learning about this new virus the prevention and mitigation principles for this virus are similar to those for the flu.
Some residents are ordering masks as a precaution. Regular dust, pollen, and surgical masks are not effective protection. The best mask for bacteria and virus protection is an N95 or N100. They’re designed to filter air through respirators that block up to 95 percent of pathogens. But, they must fit snugly and the filters have to be replaced. Otherwise, basic hygiene protects against infection by all sorts of pathogens, including the flu and common colds.
Wash your hands, slowly and frequently, with lots of soap and running water. Then, avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose. Experts say this is far more effective than wearing masks and much easier to do.
From the Town Historians
"Most residents of Hillsdale probably drive right by the Civil War monument in the center of town without even noticing it. But the “Soldiers and Sailors Flag Bearer” memorial is worthy of notice because it is the sole Civil War memorial in Columbia County. That seems odd because although Hillsdale sent more than its share of men off to the war, so did many other towns in the county. In all of Columbia County, only Hillsdale erected a monument to honor their service and only then because of the generosity of one man."
Bag Waste Reduction Law 
The new law takes effect Sunday, March 1, and prohibits the distribution of plastic carryout bags by most retailers in New York State. That means retailers who charge sales taxes are supposed to stop handing out single-use plastic bags to customers at checkout. Consumers will be able to recycle plastic carryout bags.

Though the ban still officially goes into effect on Sunday, March 1, it looks like the State is giving retailers another month to adjust to the ban.
Retailers and customers have been on notice for months that the ban is coming. It applies to grocery stores, big box retailers, and smaller shops.
The ban even applies to nonprofit groups if they’re required to collect sales taxes (at a thrift store, for example). Small businesses are covered too. Most stores are encouraging shoppers to switch to reusable bags. Paper bags will also be available.
Proposed Solar Farm
Copake Supervisor Jeanne Mettler announced that her town was approached by Hecate Energy about a proposed 60 megawatt photovoltaic solar array that the company wishes to install in Craryville. The proposed project may total over 700 acres, although the company states that the final footprint of the solar farm may be smaller. 
Since the project would be greater than 25 megawatts, Hecate will proceed under the New York State Department of Public Service Article 10 approval process and not Copake's Zoning Code (which limits any utility-scale solar energy system to 10 acres) . This means that the project will be reviewed by a seven member “Siting Board” which will include New York State commissioners as well as two representatives of the local community. The Article 10 process allows for public comment, and this newsletter will keep you posted on this process.

Supervisor Peter Cipkowski recently met with Hecate representatives, and learned that it is uncertain if the project will include land in Hillsdale. As we have just passed a law limiting a solar footprint, we are concerned about the State overriding our thoughtful approach to bringing solar projects to the region. This newsletter will publicize further information as it becomes available.
Transient Rental Regulations
Just a reminder that Hillsdale a has a local law regulating transient (or short-term) rentals. The law defines Transient Rentals as the rental or lease of any dwelling to a guest for a period of fewer than 30 days, and it specifically excludes hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts. Transient rentals include listings booked through online platforms, such as Airbnb and Home Away.
The law requires Transient Rental owners to:

  1. Obtain a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)
  2. Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance from the Town Building Inspector.

Please contact Lee Heim, Hillsdale's Building Inspector if you have questions or need more details.
Next Town Board Meeting
The Town Board meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 pm. The next meeting is Tuesday, March 10. All meetings of the Town Board and its committees are open to the public. Meeting minutes are posted for the public to review.

Submission of any requests for inclusion on a town board agenda must be received by the Town Clerk no later than the close of business on the Wednesday immediately preceding the meeting.
Safe at Home
Hillsdale's Safe at Home Committee is dedicated to identifying new programs and initiatives that benefit our senior population. Its mission is to ensure that our seniors get access to services that they need so they can age safely at home.

Monthly Coffee Hour March 10

Every second Tuesday of the month, Safe at Home hosts a Coffee Hour for seniors and their caregivers to socialize with their neighbors and to share ideas and conversation. Our next Coffee Hour at Crossroads Food Shop on Tuesday, March 10 from 10:00 to 11:30 am. 

A public health educator from the County’s Department of Health’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program (HNP) will attend and answer questions about this free service that helps seniors remain safely at home. The County Department of Health ’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program aims to improve the health, safety, and environmental living conditions.

If you need further transportation within Hillsdale to or from Crossroads, please call Gordon Bates at 528-425-5059.

Healthy Neighborhoods Program
The County Department of Health's Healthy Neighborhoods Program is a FREE service that aims to improve the health, safety, and environmental living conditions for all residents in Columbia County. Schedule a visit in your home by an HNP educator to learn how to keep a healthy and safe home. During the home visit, the HNP educator may identify safety or health hazards and will provide information and free materials to help improve the area of concern. Free materials may include fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, fall prevention items, carbon monoxide detectors, radon test kits, asthma management tools, and green cleaning items.
Please note that you do not need to own a home to receive a home visit - renters are also welcome. Call 518-828-3358, option #3, for more information.
Census Counting Starts in March
The 2020 Census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.

An accurate count is critical to communities like ours because the results of the 2020 Census will affect the funding we receive as a Town, congressional representation, and more.

In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.

If you live in Hillsdale, whether you're renting or a property owner, or if you reside here full or part-time, please be counted!
Clean-up Day March 28
Come one, come all for the annual Spring Clean-up Day on Saturday, March 28, at 10 am. Meet at the Town Hall where we will provide the safety vests, safety hats and trash bags. Bring gloves and waterproof boots are recommended. We will divide into teams for trash removal.

SAFETY FIRST, we will be walking along a State Highway, so vests and hats are required.
Please RSVP by emailing [email protected]. If can't make it, but would like to help out another time, please let us know via email.
In case of a weather event, we will reschedule for the following week

Note: The Clean-up Day when residents bring unwanted stuff to the Town Garage is typically held on the first Saturday in May. Look for more information soon.
Upcoming Events at Library
Community Dine Out

The Roeliff Jansen Community Library has launched the Seventh Annual Community Dine Out, a program that encourages "dining local" and raises money for library programming. Restaurant partners donate 10% of revenues from Dine Out meals to the library. Check out the many options on the schedule.

Bookstore Open

The Friends of Roeliff Jansen Community Library's discounted bookstore is open on the first Saturday of each month, from now through May. The next date the bookstore will open is on Saturday, February 1, from 10 am to 4 pm. Here patrons can find a wide variety of donated books at an affordable price. Proceeds support library operations, equipment, and supplies. 
Thanks for reading our newsletter. If you want to promote your upcoming event on the Hillsdale calendar or share an old photo, I'd love to hear from you!
Peter Cipkowski, Town Supervisor and Town Crier