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North Adams Committee Advises Splitting Short-Term Rental Measure

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee is recommending that the short-term rental ordinance be split so that registration, regulations, fees and enforcement fall under the Building Code and the definitions and restrictions in location under the Zoning Ordinances. 
The vote was on the advice of the city solicitor and Administrative Officer Katherine Eade, who sectioned off the ordinance. 
"She did an excellent job and she did a very short amount of time with one back to city solicitor again who said no, this is about as good as it gets," said Wilkinson. "It's a very good starting point. In fact, this may be something that other towns or cities may want to look at."
The reason for splitting up the sections was to ensure that there would be no attempts to argue that already established short-term rentals should be grandfathered in.
The committee had met on Jan. 18 and reviewed some minor changes on the ordinance and waited until the clean version was presented on Tuesday. 
Zoning was established a looking forward code, in that existing structures would not be forced to close or change their use. Only after that use had expired for a period of time would the new zoning be enforced. 
Officials hope this brings a close to years of discussion and debate over implementing regulations on so-called AirBnBs. North Adams, like other communities, had been looking to the state to set standards but the Legislature imposed taxes but no rules. 
Building Inspector William Meranti joked it was the 23rd version when asked. 
This final language had been hammered out by Meranti, Mayor Jennifer Macksey and other members of here administration after STR owners objected to what they felt was a too burdensome version put in front of the Planning Board. 
It had a joint hearing by the Planning Board and City Council and passed to a second reading by the council at its last meeting in December. 
The solicitor is of the opinion that the measure does not have to go back before the Planning Board because the zoning portion has already been approved. 
Council President Lisa Blackmer, who attended the meeting, recommended that both sections be presented as new.
"I would just start over to make a cleaner and both of them have a second reading and published as required by law because we haven't published it yet," she said. 
The vote was unanimous. 

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MCLA Considering Temporary Homeless Housing on Campus

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is considering turning the vacant Berkshire Towers dorm into a temporary homeless shelter.
President James Birge said on Friday that the college is considering a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that would supply needed housing for 50 homeless families.
"I look at the mission of the institution, and we talk about educating students to be responsible citizens," Birge said. "I think this models that mission."
Birge said residents would be mostly younger families. He assumed 50 families would generate 25 school-aged children in the Berkshire Towers.
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