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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 owner-occupied properties to renting out rooms for no more than 150 days a year. If the owner is absent there is no restriction. Owners would also be able to 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.

Copyright 2022 New England Public Media. To see more, visit New England Public Media.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Previously she served as the editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub, a collaborative of public radio stations. Earlier in her career she was the Midwest editor for NPR in Washington, D.C. Before working in radio, she recorded sound as part of a camera crew for network television news, with assignments in Russia, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba and in Sarajevo during the war in 1992.

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