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Great Barrington Town Meeting approves restrictions on short-term rentals

Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen
Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

The majority of voters at a Town Meeting in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Monday night backed a new bylaw to regulate short term rentals.

The bylaw would restrict properties where the owner is not present to renting them out for no more than 150 days a year. If it is owner-occupied, there is no time limit. The by-law restricts all short -term rentals to no more than two bedrooms or an entire second unit. Owners can operate only one property as a short-term rental.

Leigh Davis, Select Board vice-chair, said the vote for the bylaw was a vote for communities and neighborhoods in Great Barrington.

"We have kind of a bull's eye on our back," Davis said. "We're a very popular town where we have a tourist economy and there's a lot of money to be made in converting long term residences to short term rentals."

Select Board member Ed Abrahams, who opposes the bylaw, said the visitors who rent short-term add to his neighborhood.

Abrahams added that people rent out rooms short-term because they need the money for things like putting kids through college.

"It's hard to make a decent living in our town. Expenses are high and wages aren't," he said.

It's not clear yet how the bylaw will be enforced. It still needs to be approved by the attorney general's office before it is officially on the books.

The official results for the Town Meeting vote are not yet available.

Corrected: June 8, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated some of the provisions of the bylaw.
Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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