Final Debates Set for Berkshire District Attorney Candidates

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The three district attorney candidates competing for the Democratic nomination in September's primary will meet at least three more times. 
 
Paul Caccaviello, Andrea Harrington and Judith Knight are vying for the nomination that will essentially determine the winner in the race since there is no other candidate on the general election ballot. 
 
Caccaviello was first assistant district attorney for 14 years until his predecessor, David Capeless, stepped down in March so Caccaviello could run as the incumbent. He has worked in the district attorney's office as a prosecutor for nearly three decades. 
 
Harrington is a civil and criminal defense attorney who has defended death row inmates in the state of Florida and is  now an attorney at Connor & Morneau LLP. She has been practicing law for more than 15 years and first ran unsuccessfully for state senator two years ago.
 
Knight worked as a prosecutor and a public defender before entering private practice in 2003. An attorney for more than 20 years, Knight ran against Capeless in 2006 with a campaign centered on overzealous prosecution of youth caught peddling marijuana but lost.
 
The upcoming forums and debates are:
 
Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Becket Town Hall. Sponsored by the Becket Democratic Town Committee with state Sen. Adam Hinds as moderator. 
 
• Monday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. at Berkshire Community College sponsored by the Pittsfield Gazette with former Pittsfield Mayor Sara Hathaway as moderator.
 
• Thursday, Aug. 23, 7 p.m. at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, 270 State Road, Great Barrington, sponsored by Hevreh, Berkshires Interfaith Organizing, and Multicultural Bridge.
 
• Tuesday, Aug. 28, 1 p.m., Berkshire Theatre Group's Fitzpatrick Main Stage, 6 East St., Stockbridge, sponsored by BTG and WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. Moderated by WMAC's  President Alan Chartock, Berkshire Bureau Chief Josh Landes and News Director Ian Pickus. To reserve seats: 413-997-4444 or berkshiretheatregroup.org. It will be broadcast on live on WAMC, wamc.org and on Facebook.

Tags: candidate forum,   debate,   election 2018,   primary,   


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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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