Amenia aligns with Hochul’s Pro-Housing Commitment

Amenia Town Hall

John Coston

Amenia aligns with Hochul’s Pro-Housing Commitment

AMENIA — By unanimous vote, the board adopted a Pro-Housing Commitment to promote opportunities for affordable housing at their regular meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15.

The commitment aligns the town with a 2023 executive order issued by Gov. Kathy Hochul, by which the state will prioritize distribution of discretionary funding to be directed toward towns that promote construction of affordable housing.

Town Supervisor Leo Blackman explained that to be eligible for state funding, the town needs to adopt the pro-housing policy.

The pro-housing program was discussed at a joint budget hearing at the New York State Legislature Wednesday, Feb. 14, when RuthAnne Visnauskas, commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, spoke of the newly instituted initiative.

Although the budget hearing focused mainly on downstate urban housing challenges, discussion among panelists and legislators turned briefly to the issues of infrastructure costs such as water, sewer and transportation associated with smaller towns seeking to create affordable housing opportunities.

“Local governments don’t want sticks; they want carrots,” one legislator said.

“We are willing to work with all communities to help them get certified,” Viskauskas said of the pro-housing certification program.

At the Town Board meeting on Thursday, Amenia Councilwoman Rosanna Hamm said, “We recognize that we need affordable housing and that we support the idea of affordable housing.”

She added that no particular location for potential projects is implied by participating in the pro-housing program.

“It’s a commitment to affordable housing opportunities,” Councilman Brad Rebillard agreed.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, residents repeated their concerns about an affordable housing project being proposed by Hudson River Housing (HRH) of Poughkeepsie, the owner of property on Spruce Hill. A request for a change in zoning to permit multifamily apartment buildings as part of the planning for the project has alarmed neighboring residents.

Building upon comments offered at earlier Town Board meetings, resident Salvatore LaRosa detailed continued concern about the HRH request for a zone change that would extend the existing Hamlet Residential (HR) zone to include the HRH project. He voiced concern about safety hazards represented by the cliff and steep drop-off to the former ore bed adjacent to the property, where there has been a death.

“We have heard the residents’ concerns,” said Mary Linge, vice president for real estate development, representing HRH at the meeting. “All concerns will be addressed through the Planning Board process,” she added.

“We will listen and address all concerns to the best of our abilities. We want to work together,” Linge said. She added that the site plan being developed for the Planning Board application process is only a starting point that can be revised to accommodate residents’ concerns.

Latest News

Inspiring artistic inspiration at the Art Nest in Wassaic

Left to right: Emi Night (Lead Educator), Luna Reynolds (Intern), Jill Winsby-Fein (Education Coordinator).

Natalia Zukerman

The Wassaic Art Project offers a free, weekly drop-in art class for kids aged K-12 and their families every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. The Art Nest, as it’s called, is a light, airy, welcoming space perched on the floor of the windy old mill building where weekly offerings in a variety of different media lead by professional artists offer children the chance for exploration and expression. Here, children of all ages and their families are invited to immerse themselves in the creative process while fostering community, igniting imaginations, and forging connections.

Emi Night began as the Lead Educator at The Art Nest in January 2024. She studied painting at Indiana University and songwriting at Goddard College in Vermont and is both a visual artist and the lead songwriter and singer in a band called Strawberry Runners.

Keep ReadingShow less
Weaving and stitching at Kent Arts Association

A detail from a fabric-crafted wall mural by Carlos Biernnay at the annual Kent Arts Association fiber arts show.

Alexander Wilburn

The Kent Arts Association, which last summer celebrated 100 years since its founding, unveiled its newest group show on Friday, May 11. Titled “Working the Angles,” the exhibition gathers the work of textile artists who have presented fiber-based quilts, landscapes, abstracts, and mural-sized illustrations. The most prominently displayed installation of fiber art takes up the majority of the association’s first floor on South Main Street.

Bridgeport-based artist Carlos Biernnay was born in Chile under the rule of the late military dictator Augusto Pinochet, but his large-scale work is imbued with fantasy instead of suffering. His mix of influences seems to include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s popular German libretto “The Magic Flute” — specifically The Queen of the Night — as well as Lewis Carol’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” The Tudor Court, tantalizing mermaids and exotic flora.

Keep ReadingShow less
Let there be Night: How light pollution harms migrating birds
Alison Robey

If last month’s solar eclipse taught me anything, it’s that we all still love seeing cool stuff in the sky. I don’t think we realize how fast astronomical wonders are fading out of sight: studies show that our night skies grow about 10% brighter every year, and the number of visible stars plummets as a result. At this rate, someone born 18 years ago to a sky with 250 visible stars would now find only 100 remaining.

Vanishing stars may feel like just a poetic tragedy, but as I crouch over yet another dead Wood Thrush on my morning commute, the consequences of light pollution feel very real. Wincing, I snap a photo of the tawny feathers splayed around his broken neck on the asphalt.

Keep ReadingShow less