Good news from the Pine Plains Planning Board

It’s nice to see when a project comes before a board, in this instance the Pine Plains Planning Board, and even when it meets with opposition, matters can be worked out and consensus reached. That is exactly what seems to have happened in the case with KTB principal Jack Banning, who hopes to rent the building he owns with his wife, Irene, on Church Street to former Stissing House restaurateurs Michel and Patricia Jean.

The Jeans plan to open a new French restaurant at the site, which was once home to the former local favorite Crumpets, as well as the former New Age Diner and Agriturismo, as well as a host of others. Located at 2938 Church St., the 23-person capacity dining space has served as a number of eateries in its 30-year history.

Jack and Irene are well-known in Pine Plains, not only for opening up the popular Inn at Pine Plains as well as The Platter, both on Church Street (Route 199), along with many other businesses in town, Jack is also is the inspiration behind, the co-founder of and the president of the Board of Directors of The Stissing Center (TSC). 

TSC is the still-under-renovation performing arts center on Church Street that, once done, promises to be a draw to world-class performers and paying audiences from around the Tri-state area and beyond. It will unquestionably become an anchor in the hamlet’s business district and a major arts and entertainment venue for the entire region. 

It was the Bannings’ vision of TSC, along with their partners’, that triggered the town’s reawakening a number of years ago and started to draw others to the community. All the while they continued investing, buying more property, starting up their own businesses and encouraging others to do the same in the once (and some say still) sleepy Pine Plains (not all of which have survived), like the barbershop, the laundromat, the general store, the feed store, etc. The Bannings have invested a lot into this community, in terms of not only their money but their time, energy, enthusiasm, hope and caring.

So when Jack Banning saw an opportunity to invest in the Jeans, a proven duo with Michel cooking up a storm in the kitchen and Patricia at the front of the house, we were so glad he pursued it. We were also pleased the Jeans agreed. Clearly so were the many Harlem Valley diners hungry for their wonderful French fare that has been sorely missed since they shut the doors to The Stissing House this January after 15 years of delighting discerning palates and charming chatty diners. 

That much was evident by the 70 letters in support of Banning’s application that were submitted to the Planning Board at a public hearing on Wednesday, June 9.

We also understand the concerns of neighbors Bill and Patti Hollick, who had their attorney, Wayne Thompson, submit two letters opposing the project on their behalf. The letters claimed that because the Church Street building stopped operating as a restaurant in 2019 when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Banning’s project needed to be considered as a new application rather than as a simple request for site plan approval. 

The Hollicks objected to the lack of setbacks, landscape screening, sound screening and light screening listed on the application — all of which could negatively affect them as neighbors. Patti Hollick feared they would lose all of their privacy and be able to smell and see everything going on in the restaurant’s patio, and vice versa for the restaurant’s clientele. 

The public hearing continued on Wednesday, June 23. Thompson reported the Hollicks and Banning’s attorney had made some significant progress, as they discussed using foliage to shield the two properties from each other with specific shrubbery. They also spoke of perhaps moving the compressor to quell the noise. (For more details, read article on front page.)

Bottom line? Somehow, some way, discussions were had, negotiations were held, consensus was reached. We’re not saying the matter is 100% settled, or that everything Mr. Banning wants is right, that everything the Hollicks want is right or even that everything the Planning Board wants is right. What we’re saying is the fact all sides were willing to move toward the middle and compromise is what’s important, and most likely what led to the amended site plan being approved by the Planning Board on the 23rd.

That spirit of cooperation is what will hopefully now lead to one more business opening up, one more chef ordering food from local purveyors, one more waitress getting a job, one more couple going out to eat at a local restaurant, one more tax bill being paid to the town and county, etc., etc., etc. 

It’s all good news for Pine Plains, which is all good news for us. What a great model for how a cooperative community can function successfully.

Latest News

Catching memories at fishing derby

James Martindale, 6, of Pittsfield, Mass., lands a 10-inch bluegill.

John Coston

NORTH CANAAN — “I heard somebody caught a turtle.”

That was the mood on Sunday, May 19 at the annual fishing derby held by the Connecticut Rod and Gun Club.

Keep ReadingShow less
Classifieds - 5-23-24

Help Wanted

Housekeeping Position: Berkshire School has a full-time opening for a housekeeping shift. This position requires some heavy lifting, initiative, and the ability to work as an effective member of a team. Some weekend and holiday hours are mandatory. This year-round position has excellent benefits. Interested parties should contact Carlos Taborda at or 413-229-1336.

Summer Camp Counselor: The Village of Millerton is currently seeking enthusiastic and dedicated individuals to join our team as Summer Camp Counselors. Must be over the age of 16. Responsibilities Include supervising and engaging campers in various activities and attending weekly off site camp trips. To apply please contact the Village Clerk at 518-789-4489 or stop by for an application at 5933 N. Elm Ave, Millerton, NY 12546.

Keep ReadingShow less
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