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Stockbridge will consider allowing 'accessory' dwelling units for year-round homeowners

STOCKBRIDGE — To attract more year-round residents, especially young families, town leaders are considering a bylaw to give homeowners a new ability to obtain rental income.

“We’re trying to create housing, not create opportunities for Airbnb folks to make even more money on a property,” Select Board Chairman Patrick White said at last week’s meeting.

To that end, the board voted 3-0 to refer a proposed bylaw to the Planning Board that would allow an additional dwelling unit.

The new regulation, if backed by the town’s Planning Board and eventually by town meeting voters, would allow one additional dwelling unit per property to full-time legal residents, defined as living in their homes at least 183 days a year. More than 50 percent of the town’s homes are owned by part-time, seasonal residents.

The bylaw would create residential housing, White said. 

The Planning Board would have 65 days to schedule a public hearing on the proposal, followed by an up or down vote within 21 days.

Then the Select Board could accept the plan and make revisions before turning it over to the annual town meeting in May.

“It’s a tight schedule,” White acknowledged.

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Second bylaw

A second bylaw put forward by White would require large new residential housing developments, but not hotel projects, to include affordable housing units, based on the size of the project, or pay into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

On the advice of town counsel, the draft proposal eliminated hotels from the potential bylaw because they would be covered by the town’s current Cottage Era Estate regulations. Those rules require a special permit for a new hotel, which could include conditions to include affordable housing.

The formula works like this: If a developer proposed 10 to 19 market-rate housing units, one on the property would have to be affordable. Likewise, a proposed development of 20 to 29 units would require the inclusion of up to two that are affordable.

For a large project of 30 or more units, 10 percent of the total would be affordable. In all cases, contributions to the trust fund could be substituted.

The potential bylaw is modeled on a similar regulation in Lenox, a town described by White as “very pro-developer with very large-scale and extensive developments. They’ve had this in place for a long time and they’ve done it successfully. This is something we can learn from our neighbors.”

The Select Board also voted unanimously to ask the Planning Board to consider the proposal.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.

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