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Adams Board of Health Mulls Policy for Short-Term Rental Inspections

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health is considering creating a policy that would allow it to inspect short-term room rentals, like those rented through Airbnb.com.
 
"Do we feel as though it is important for the Board of Health to inspect those kinds of places?" Chairman David Rhoads asked at last week's board meeting.
 
The discussion was prompted by the bill recently signed by Gov. Charlie Backer that would tax and regulate short-term room rentals. Hosts will be required to register with the state and secure insurance, but those who rent out their homes for 14 days or less will be exempt from the state tax. The bill goes into effect on July 1. 
 
Rhoads said he did not think there were more than three rentals in town but felt any location should be healthy and safe. (A review of Airbnb and some other rental sites show about eight.)
 
"What if you had an outhouse in your yard and you put it out there that you could set up a cot and sleep in there," he said. "That is not appropriate and that may be an extreme case but I agree if are going to rent out a space, it should be healthy."
 
Code Enforcement Officer Thomas Romaniak had logistical concerns about the inspections and did not know how the town would keep track of all possible rentals.  
 
He also felt with the likelihood the bill will be appealed, it may be best to hold off on a decision. Airbnb already filed suit last summer against the city of Boston when it enacted an ordinance forcing hosts to register and pay a $200 fee. 
 
Although no decision was made Wednesday, Rhoads said he would like to discuss the issue at a future meeting. 
 
"We want to protect public health because there have been some scary stories about Airbnb," he said. "We aren't just trying to make more work."
 
In other business, Rhoads asked each board member to come up with a list of suggestions to improve public health in Adams.
 
"Just thinks that would improve public health in the coming year," he said. "We can boil down a few things and make a list that would be great."

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Adams Cemetery Commission Appoints Caretakers

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Cemetery Commission appointed two residents to take care of two historic cemeteries.
 
The commission last week appointed residents Allen Mendel and Johanna Maxwell as the caretakers of Daniels Court Cemetery and Bowens Corner Cemetery. 
 
"It is an extension of a back yard," Commissioner Bruce Shepely said about Bowens Corner Cemetery. "It has historical implications that go back to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The latest burial is 1865."
 
The previous caretaker of Bowens Corner Cemetery can no longer maintain the East Road graveyard and abuttor Maxwell contacted the commission and said she would be interested.
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