The OUTCOME !                                                          4-19-2017


                     First things first. I wish to extend my sincere thanks to all of you who attended the Public Hearing tonight, and a Special Nod to those who could not attend but took the time to send emails to the Zoning Office to voice your opposition to Dunkin Donuts.

                      There were about 25 to 30 members of the public present, and at one point, we did a hand-raise count of how many oppose Dunkin Donuts. EVERY person in the room raised their hand! NO ONE raised their hand to express approval! Now here's something interesting; emails poured into the CEO's computer all day long today, and were STILL coming in after the meeting started! I asked for an accurate count but no one seemed to know at that point, anyway. 

                     Greg Hanna said that there were FOUR emails in support of DD, but I know for certain that at LEAST  25 emails were received before the meeting. Not a good sampling of the ENTIRE population of the town, but a big enough difference to make it very clear that the PEOPLE do not WANT Dunkin Donuts or any other , Fast-food establishment. Hanna also stated that an accurate survey or the residents would cost in the area of $20,000 dollars or more and would take months to complete and tally.

                       We all know that the Planning Board's job is to review the application and details and decide if everything is in compliance with town codes and laws. It is not  their job to decide if a project is popular or unpopular with the residents. So, WHOSE job IS it? I guess it is OURS, yours, mine, our neighbors and friends who live here. Today was a great start in getting our voices heard, but we have a lot of work to do and very little time to do it. Where do we start? By coming together and taking action!

                         I asked the PB members to at least take into consideration the fact that there IS a LOT of opposition to this business and if they would at least inform the Town Board that something more needs to be done so far as polling the residents before this application is approved. No, it is not their burden, but it could help a little. In the meantime, PLEASE do not stop contacting the CEO's office, members of the Planning Board, the Town Board, and especially the local newspapers. Even an email to Dunkin Donuts Corporate Offices MIGHT have some impact. 

                        What it comes down to is this; how many of the residents who are even aware of this issue, are willing to actually get physically involved in stopping it or at least trying  to stop it?  How many will come and meet with others, or put a "Stop Dunkin Donuts" sign in their yard?  How many will really take the time to contact our officials and say "NO!" ? Will anyone look into the codes regarding Chain Stores that existed BEFORE the present Comprehensive Plan was adopted, or IF anything like that was ever mentioned? Will you demand a vote of the people re: having a say in what kind of businesses we want in our town? Would you be willing to accept the results of such a vote even if it went the way you didn't want it to go? 

                        Sadly, unless we have a TREMENDOUS Public Outcry in this matter, we have nothing at our disposal to fight this project. There is ZERO protection in any town document for the wishes of the residents. Despite all the Comprehensive Plan work, the Zoning Re-Writes, the Conservation Groups and silly rules, we have NO power to control the future of our own town. Any commercial business that wishes to mar our rural landscape can do so as long as they comply with the existing codes. That would include casinos, strip joints, biker bars, Taco Bell, and so on and so on. We have NO recourse at all! Even if we managed to insert a clause NOW to protect us from such undesirable businesses, the DD application would be exempt because they applied PRIOR to that change. Aren't you thrilled to know that NO ONE involved in writing these documents ever considered these possibilities?

                         I am 100% Capitalist, but I am also a fan of common sense and of preserving the few, small rural towns remaining that have not yet been infiltrated by negative progress. SO many people have been working in recent years to make New Lebanon more attractive. Old buildings are being rescued and rehabbed, the Town Hall is looking better than ever, the park is greatly improved, and with the exception of the Midtown Mall, the ugliest sites have been upgraded or removed. We NEED business here, no doubt of that, but do we want crap or clean? Do we want to preserve the rural history of our town, or allow it to become commercialized? 

                         We will never be a Stockbridge or a Kinderhook, nor should we be, but we do need to do everything we can to keep the corporate giants in the cities where they belong. New Lebanon residents need to examine what it is they really want, support LOCAL business and privately-owned establishments, and most of all, take action to demand that protections against the undesirable businesses are put in place. We need CLEAR, CONCISE wording in the now-useless Comp Plan and right NOW, we need to scream LOUDLY, in opposition to DD. THAT is our power, our ONLY power.

                          I will keep you updated on the actions we will be taking and ask that you PLEASE keep contacting local officials and opposing this project.

                          As someone who has been an activist for many years and seen many losses as well as a few wins, today was very encouraging. It isn't always a matter of whether you win or lose, it is a matter of seeing people get involved, speak their minds, exercise their RIGHT to be heard and to have their opinions considered. If you support DD and you took the time to let the officials know, GOOD FOR YOU! If you oppose it and took the time to do the same, GOOD FOR YOU!  THAT is what we as Americans SHOULD be doing! The very act of being engaged in something that matters, is courageous and admirable. The outcome is something the losers need to deal with and move on to the next one. 

                            I have had SO many people say that they don't care one way or the other about the issues, and that is very sad. It is also a bad omen for the future of America. Thank you to those who stepped-up tonight. YOU are the strong ones, regardless of where you stand. Be proud.

  CEO@townofnewlebanon.com

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