Letter to the Editor - The Millerton News - 7-27-23

Living next to a short term rental

So, Millbrook and the Town of Washington are formulating plans to codify short-term rentals, because studies have shown them beneficial to local shops and restaurants. In adding their blessings to the depressingly transactional devolution of our residential neighborhoods, our local boards are asserting, “Your home is not just your castle, it’s your cash cow. Better yet, it’s our cash cow! Everybody wins!”

Everybody, that is, except those of us who reside next to those STRs. We lose the peace-and-privacy lottery, no matter what regulatory guardrails are put in place.

I would bet my next property tax payment that Mike Murphy and the architects of the STR plans have never had the misfortune of living next to a short-term rental.

They probably haven’t experienced first-hand that sinking feeling, realizing you’ve moved in next to a hospitality operation run out of the owner’s Manhattan apartment, when you thought you had bought into a quiet country neighborhood with steady neighbors that have your back. Or the headache of raucous dinner parties on the neighbor’s deck, whose sound tunnel into your yard is so acute that you could transcribe entire conversations from your porch. Or enduring the marathon barking of agitated dogs left behind in a strange environment for a day while their owners tour the Hudson Valley.

  They couldn’t understand what it’s like to look out upon a grotesquely ugly shale-and-mud hillside, Gerry-built to support a new swimming pool whose chemicals get emptied into the wetlands in the fall. This godforsaken pool was ostensibly installed for “personal use” by our neighbor, who inaugurated her STR in 2012, but has afforded her the opportunity to up her daily fee and make the property more competitive in a burgeoning market. This nightmare of spit-and-Scotch-tape construction and kamikaze tree butchering was greenlit without a plan by John Parisi and a reckless zoning board, who, deaf to my family’s privacy and environmental concerns, helped the owner do an end-run around wetlands and STR ordinances to obtain a building variance.

These are precisely the sort of horror stories that occur when local boards advantage the town’s business interests and the self-interest of its occasional residents over the life quality of its year-round residents. STR permit planners would argue that they are putting elaborate curbs in place to minimize abuse. But who, at day’s end, is going to enforce these rules? Inevitably, it will fall on the reluctant shoulders of neighboring homeowners, who never signed on to the thankless job of policing the short-term rental offender next door.

The Millerton News reports that a resolution will be adopted in August, followed by another public hearing. But these are just formalities. When the bottom line is the town’s bottom line, the board’s going to do what it’s going to do. So, go ahead and repaint that vacant bedroom. Renovate that Florida room. Rent that house and rake in that revenue for you, the Village and the Town. It’s not just your right. It’s your civic duty. Damn the neighbors, full speed ahead!

Jan Stuart


Latest News

Thru hikers linked by life on the Appalachian Trail

Riley Moriarty


Of thousands who attempt to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, only one in four make it.

The AT, completed in 1937, runs over roughly 2,200 miles, from Springer Mountain in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park of Maine.

Keep ReadingShow less
17th Annual New England Clambake: a community feast for a cause

The clambake returns to SWSA's Satre Hill July 27 to support the Jane Lloyd Fund.


The 17th Annual Traditional New England Clambake, sponsored by NBT Bank and benefiting the Jane Lloyd Fund, is set for Saturday, July 27, transforming the Salisbury Winter Sports Association’s Satre Hill into a cornucopia of mouthwatering food, live music, and community spirit.

The Jane Lloyd Fund, now in its 19th year, is administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and helps families battling cancer with day-to-day living expenses. Tanya Tedder, who serves on the fund’s small advisory board, was instrumental in the forming of the organization. After Jane Lloyd passed away in 2005 after an eight-year battle with cancer, the family asked Tedder to help start the foundation. “I was struggling myself with some loss,” said Tedder. “You know, you get in that spot, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Someone once said to me, ‘Grief is just love with no place to go.’ I was absolutely thrilled to be asked and thrilled to jump into a mission that was so meaningful for the community.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Getting to know our green neighbors

Cover of "The Light Eaters" by Zoe Schlanger.


This installment of The Ungardener was to be about soil health but I will save that topic as I am compelled to tell you about a book I finished exactly three minutes before writing this sentence. It is called “The Light Eaters.” Written by Zoe Schlanger, a journalist by background, the book relays both the cutting edge of plant science and the outdated norms that surround this science. I promise that, in reading this book, you will be fascinated by what scientists are discovering about plants which extends far beyond the notions of plant communication and commerce — the wood wide web — that soaked into our consciousnesses several years ago. You might even find, as I did, some evidence for the empathetic, heart-expanding sentiment one feels in nature.

A staff writer for the Atlantic who left her full-time job to write this book, Schlanger has travelled around the world to bring us stories from scientists and researchers that evidence sophisticated plant behavior. These findings suggest a kind of plant ‘agency’ and perhaps even a consciousness; controversial notions that some in the scientific community have not been willing or able to distill into the prevailing human-centric conceptions of intelligence.

Keep ReadingShow less