Episode-1961- Listener Calls for 3-2-17 — 12 Comments

  1. Just to clarify the Cold Stream Farm Jack is talking about is at

  2. Hello Dennis Allen – Please contact me. I bought a house in Central Pennsylvania and I am in a zoning fight with a warehouse that is using zoning weaknesses to change residential to industrial next to about 5o homes. I may be able to give you some input. We have zoning in place however it is difficult for individual to have a voice with zoning issue.-

  3. Re: Pension cash-out

    Weird coincidence; I’m about the same age and was recently in the same exact position after I escaped from my corporate cage… er, cubicle. Even my pension amount and future monthly payments were in the same ballpark. Anyway, I too was given a limited window to cash out (within 6 months of my quit date). I did some of the same math Jack described, and also did a ‘best conservative guess’ as to the effects of future inflation. Even setting aside the possibility of future defaults or haircuts, given my age, potential alternative returns, and 25 years of potentially nasty inflation (the gov’t has every incentive to err on the side of inflation) the odds were much more in favor of cashing out and rolling over to another retirement plan. The only hitch thus far is that my company told me they have to wait till the end of the current quarter to cut the check to my retirement account, and thus I’m still waiting on the rollover to take effect. So don’t expect these rollovers or cash-outs to happen quickly. Another odd thing is that while I requested a direct rollover and the check is being made out to the brokerage holding the retirement account, they said they have to mail it to me and then I mail it on to the brokerage. Not sure if that’s usual for pension rollovers or not.

    As to rolling it into an IRA or Roth IRA, either is doable but the best choice depends greatly on personal tax circumstances. I’m directly rolling mine into a Roth IRA, and while it does count as taxable income, one doesn’t pay the 10% early withdrawal penalty (BTW there are less restrictions & gotchas as long as you do a direct rollover, see ). If I were still an employee in the U.S. earning what I did, I’d probably have chosen a standard IRA instead and converted smaller amounts to a Roth each subsequent year. Only by first estimating all my other taxable income, standard deductions, exemptions, and tax credits for this tax year (to ensure I wouldn’t get clobbered by the additional tax) did I conclude the Roth IRA was a good choice for my situation. If the caller decided to cash-out, I hope for his sake he either rolled it into a standard IRA, or if not he at least did the math and/or got the help of a tax professional. A $28K increase in taxable income can make a nasty impact on one’s tax credits, among other things, if not properly planned.

  4. Have bought two of the grow lights since the last show and for the cost they were an absolutely awesome find. Works great especially for growing citrus indoors, since getting them my Meyer lemon and kumquat have grown three inches and leafed out after looking sad for quite some time. Thanks for all the work you put into finding great items to reccomend and for doing an awesome show Jack.

  5. Comment on zoning. First, where I’m coming from: I live in a state neighboring PA, in a Village that has areas zoned residential, agricultural/residential, commercial and institutional, within a Town that is largely agricultural and includes a perpetually expanding CAFO. I’m peripherally involved in local government (mostly Village).
    Dennis wants to be able to continue to have a homestead (as I do) but not be oppressed by CAFOs (think manure run-off). He won’t want to wait until development is imminent; that will be too late.
    Beginning with a survey of stakeholders is a recipe for frustration and acrimony if people do not already agree on the goals and come from the same knowledge base. Also, as Karl mentions, an unclear law is the worst case scenario, because the very same potentially oppressive neighbor CAFO can afford big lawyers.
    So, here’s the upshot. The agriculture that the caller would like to encourage does not exceed the carrying capacity of the land and therefore has a relationship to the available outdoor food (e.g. grazing). In the NE, a rule of thumb is that 1-1.5 acres support 1000 lbs of ruminant animal(s): one cow, or eight 120-lb sheep, etc. This probably also works for horses, but not poultry or pigs (the latter present other problems). Consult farmers & the Ag literature to get similar rules for these or other species. CAFOs will also have legal definitions (including that animals are never outdoors).
    These definitions provide a practical set of benchmarks to define what you want/do not want. It is a lot easier to look at something that has already been written and decide if you like it than to write it from scratch, so call your county planning board and ask where to find Model Zoning Laws for the kind of municipality you are in. Talk to Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund for what to look for; they are doing a lot of work related to zoning these days, I’m told. (Karl, maybe they can help you.)
    If Dennis wants to influence the process, presenting an appropriate, clear document (draft zoning law) based on PA’s own models has the best chance. Then people can read, analyze & fine-tune it. Sorry to add that municipalities do need from time to time to hire a lawyer to advise. Failing to do so leads to problems such as Karl is describing. I hope this is helpful.

  6. I find locust to be a “litter” tree, along with all the silver maples in my area…Tho at least the silver maple burns nicely. What’s the attraction?

    • Gee, wow. Okay just a few.

      First Black Locust is one of the best burning woods there is, much higher energy than maple by the way. If not burned it lasts for 100 years and makes great fence posts, tool handles, etc.

      It is an amazing boost for bees over about 3 weeks of flowering and the flowers are wonderful to eat and taste sort of like sweet peas.

      If you cut it it will pollard or copice and regrow rapidly making wood harvest infinitely sustainable. Sheep/goats/cattle will happily graze the leaves and shoots if you get suckers. So it feeds livestock as well.

      It also fixes nitrogen, hence it increases soil fertility. I could keep going but if that ain’t enough it won’t matter I guess. LOL

    • Honey locust also fixes nitrogen, though the thorns are a much bigger issue than with black.

  7. Hoping that Dennis’ work to get a clear and livable zoning law is going well. I came across this definition in an article in my local paper: ” CAFOs refer to farms that have 300 or more animals that are confined for 45 days or more each year.” That came from NY’s Dept of Environmental Conservation.” Took a quick look at your draft law; in my (limited) experience, it appears to be based on a Model Law. The substantial proportion devoted to definitions is good: helps with fair interpretation.