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This year's Adams Scholars.
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Joshua Mendel opens the ceremonies.
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MCLA students handed out the certificates; named were called by Director of Admissions Gina Puc.
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McCann students pose with Principal Justin Kratz.
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Adams Scholars from BArT.
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Drury High School scholarship recipients.
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Hoosac Valley Adams Scholars.
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Mount Greylock Regional scholarship winners.
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Adams Scholars from Taconic High School.
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Adams Scholars Honored at Annual MCLA Event

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Above, Adams Scholars receive a round of applause at Monday's recognition event at MCLA. Left, McCann valedictorian Marinna Burzimati spoke of her experience as an Adams Scholar and MCLA student.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has been celebrating local recipients of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarships for several years now, but Monday's event was easily its biggest event yet.

The lobby area at the new Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation was packed as the college passed out certificates to dozens of high school seniors. More than 40 students accepted the invitation to attend.

"You've figured out somehow how to juggle, how to be able achieve high standards academically while doing the other things that you do to help make your school stronger, your communities stronger, to engage in life outside of class pursuits but still paying attention in the classroom to achieve this recognition," said MCLA President Mary Grant. "You should feel very proud of your accomplishments. I know your family members are proud — let them be proud."

Some 360 Berkshire County high school seniors earned the scholarships, said Joshua Mendel, associate director of admissions and emcee for the short ceremony. Often the accomplishments of academics get overshadowed by athletics, he said, but "tonight, front page, right here and center is your academic successes and we're very, very proud to be able to share the success of the scholarship with you."

The state scholarships are awarded to students who score advanced and proficient on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests and who are in the top 25 percent of their graduating class. Tuition is waved for up to four years at state schools for Adams Scholars.

"I know from experience, obviously, the amount of work and sweat it takes to qualify for this scholarship and receiving it is really a great way to be recognized for the effort you have put in," said Marinna Burzimati, a McCann Technical School graduate and Adams Scholar now in her freshman year studying psychology at MCLA.

That money can come in handy, said the 2013 valedictorian, who's facing how much higher education can cost.  "I am grateful for it. This scholarship is beneficial. I can count on it each year — as long as I keep my grades up."

Those attending were offered a tour of the new center and staff from admissions and financial aid were on hand to answer questions — whether the students were considering MCLA or not.

Grant was clear that she'd like all of them to come to MCLA, but most of all, she wanted them to continue a pursuit of higher education.

"In Massachusetts, there are an array of exceptional institutions that will meet your needs and challenge you to reach those next levels of excellence," she told the gathering.

Burzimati said MCLA hadn't been on her radar early on. College meant going away, not staying at a local school. But after touring the college, "I began to really picture my future here."

"I guess that would be my best piece of advice when you look at colleges is to make sure you're confident enough that you can envision a future there and you think you're going to get everything you want out of that college," she said.

Mayor Richard Alcombright also congratulated the students from Drury High School, Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School, Hoosac Valley High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School and Taconic High School (a Pittsfield High School student who RSVP'd was unable to attend).

He asked them to thank "the people in your lives who helped you get where you are today." Channeling longtime McCann School Committee member James Gazzaniga, the mayor described them as "the people who were gracious enough to give you a pat on the back and not afraid to give you a kick in the pants, when you needed it."

Tags: academic award,   MCLA,   recognition event,   scholarships,   

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Letter: Problematic Proposed Lenox Short-Term Rental Bylaw

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Under the proposed short-term rental Lenox bylaw, "up to two bedrooms in a dwelling unit may be rented year-round by right provided that the owner or tenant is occupying the dwelling unit at the time of the rental."

Presumably, bedrooms may not be rented at all if the owner or tenant is not occupying the dwelling unit.

In other words, literally, the very same use is allowed by one type of owner (an owner occupying the dwelling unit), but not another type of owner (one who does not occupy the dwelling unit where bedrooms are being rented). Because there is identical use and intensity and the only thing that differs is the type of owner or renter; it is hard to view this as mere regulation of use and not ownership.

The other provision suffers from the same problem. Suppose there is a duplex or land with two houses on it (perhaps an old robber-baron estate) but with separate owners for each dwelling unit. Under the rule regarding "dwelling units being rented in their entirety," "an entire dwelling unit maybe rented up to 75 days per calendar year by right," and "an entire dwelling unit may be rented for an additional 35 days (up to 110 days) per calendar year by Special Permit."

But then suppose there is unity of ownership and one person owns the entire duplex or both houses. In that case, "the above totals apply to the entire parcel" and "the day limits defined above shall be apportioned among those dwelling units."

A town can regulate the number of days a short-term rental may be utilized under the newly passed statute: but this additional restriction based on who owns the premises is a regulation of ownership and not use.

The same is instinct through other parts as well. Of course, Lenox residents or their guest can park in the street. But if you are renting a short-term rental, "All overnight parking must be within the property's driveway or garage." If you own or rent property, so long as you get the right permits, you may entertain on your property. But if you are a short-term renter, "events that include tents or amplified music or which would customarily require a license or permit are not allowed."

Since 1905, when Home Rules was put into the [Massachusetts] Constitution, towns could pass their own bylaws, so long as there was no regulation of a civil relationship unless it was an incident to a legitimate municipal power. This meant, among other things, zoning laws had to regulate use and not ownership. It is now a fundamental principle of Massachusetts zoning that it deals basically with the use, without regard to the ownership of the property involved, or who may be the operator of the use. This bylaw appears to violate this fundamental tenet.

By way of example of the you-may-regulate-use-but-not-ownership rule, it has been held that a city did not have authority under the Massachusetts Constitution to pass an ordinance that affected the civil relationship between tenants and their landlord, who wished to convert their rental units to condominiums. In another case, a municipal ordinance which restricted a landlord's ability to terminate a lease and remove his property from the rental market in order to sell it was invalid.

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