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Lanesborough to Vote on 34 Articles at ATM
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:39PM / Friday, May 17, 2024
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Voters will decide 34 warrant articles at the annual town meeting on June 11.

The Select Board endorsed a long list of articles during its regular meeting on Monday, most without discussion. 

A $11,846,607 spending plan has been proposed for fiscal year 2025, a 4.3 percent increase from the this year. The budget includes a net increase of $237,129 in education costs for the Mount Greylock Regional School District and McCann Technical School, less than the $271,478 increase in FY24. 

Three articles are related to short-term rentals, or Airbnbs: To impose a local excise tax of up to 6 percent of the total amount of rent for each occupancy, a 3 percent impact fee on "professionally managed" short-term rentals, and a 3 percent impact fee on short-term rentals in two- or three-family dwellings.

"These are the proposed language as provided by town counsel," Town Administrator Gina Dario explained.

Included in the 34 articles is one citizen's petition, which the board was not required to endorse. If passed, this petition would increase the Select Board from three to five members with an annual election of the chair. The candidate receiving the highest number of votes in that election would serve a three-year term, the candidate receiving the second highest number of votes would serve a two-year term, and the candidate receiving the third highest number of votes would serve a one-year term, with three-year terms to follow.

Two articles needed clearance from the Planning Board before coming to the Select Board, one being a request to amend the town's zoning bylaw to raise the cap on accessory dwelling units from 900 to 2,500 square feet.  

The proposal is in response to the lack of housing availability in the community and is the second go-around.

Last year, voters rejected a proposal to remove the 900 square-foot cap on ADUs due to concerns that people would build large structures on their property. With this new cap, planners feel there is a chance of receiving support from townspeople.

"There was a lot of pushback on what people could build, things like that," Chair Joe Trybus said. "So the board got back together and we put another limit on it. We just raised it."

Two articles generated discussion from the board during previous conversations: an ask for $70,000 to hire an additional full-time police officer and a $15,000 free cash ask for supplies and equipment in the upcoming Senior Park at the underutilized Bridge Street Park.

Police Chief Robert Derksen previously said a single officer was working 71 percent of the time last year and for the most part, there are only consistently two officers on the weekdays when he is on duty.

Select Board member Timothy Sorrell, the former police chief, confirmed with Dario that this would impact the tax rate. It would bring the budget to a 5 percent increase from the previous year.

Last year, the board voted to form a Lanesborough Senior Park Initiative after being approached by resident Linda Pruyne. Utilizing the existing infrastructure, the planners feel they may be able to install a small gazebo for shade, a pickle ball court, and a Whiffle ball field among other aspects for staying active at an older age.

Pruyne explained that the planners are exploring grant opportunities to fund the improvements but need seed money.

"What I never realized earlier is in order to get those types of grants, we have to spend money to get an engineering study done, a business plan of sorts," she said.

The selectman approved the article with the understanding that town counsel will be consulted to make sure that the wording allows the funds to be used for matching grants.

Draft ATM Warrant by Brittany Polito

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