Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. The Watertown Redevelopment Authority established by a vote of the town meeting on February tenth, nineteen hundred and sixty-six, pursuant to the General Laws is hereby abolished.
SECTION 2. The town of Watertown, hereinafter called the town, shall assume all rights, obligations, contracts, title to property, assets, liabilities, including outstanding litigation and responsibilities of the Watertown redevelopment authority, hereinafter called the authority. All bonded indebtedness of the authority shall become the responsibility of the town and, where necessary, the consent of the secretary of communities and development shall be required to transfer any outstanding bonds.
All petitions, hearings, actions at law or in equity, or other proceedings pending immediately prior to the effective date of this act before any court of law or any administrative tribunal shall continue unabated as if no reorganization has been effected and shall be the responsibility of the town.
All orders, rules, and regulations duly promulgated by the authority prior to the effective date of this act relating to the execution of urban renewal projects shall remain in full force and effect until superseded, revised, or rescinded in accordance with the law.
All contracts and obligations of the authority in connection with the execution of urban renewal projects duly in effect immediately prior to the effective date of this act shall continue in full force and effect and shall be contracts and obligations of the town.
All rights, title and interest in any real property held in the name of the authority shall be transferred to the town.
SECTION 3. It is hereby declared that:
(a) substandard, decadent or blighted open areas exist in the town and that each of such areas constitutes serious and growing menace, injurious to the safety, health, and welfare of the residents of the town;
(b) that the existence of each of such areas necessitates an excessive and disproportionate expenditure of public funds for the preservation of the public health and safety, for crime prevention, for the maintenance of adequate police, fire and accident protection and other public services and facilities, constitutes an economic and social liability, substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the town, and retards the provision of housing accommodations;
(c) that each of such areas decreases the value of private investments and threatens the sources of public revenue and the financial stability of the town;
(d) that because of the economic and social interdependence of the town with neighboring communities the redevelopment of land not only in substandard areas but also in decadent and blighted open areas in accordance with a comprehensive plan to promote the sound growth of the town is necessary in order to achieve permanent and comprehensive elimination of substandard conditions and to prevent the recurrence of such conditions or their development in other parts of the town;
(e) that the redevelopment of blighted open areas promotes the clearance of substandard and decadent areas and prevents their creation and occurrence;
(f) that the menace of such substandard, decadent or blighted open areas is beyond remedy and control solely by regulatory process in the exercise of the police power and cannot be dealt with effectively by the ordinary operations of private enterprise without the aids herein provided;
(g) that the acquisition of property for the purpose of eliminating substandard, decadent or blighted open conditions thereon and preventing occurrence of such conditions in the area, the removal of structures and improvement of sites, and disposition of the property for redevelopment incidental to the foregoing, and the exercise of powers by the town and any assistance which may be given by the commonwealth or any other public body in connection therewith, are public uses and purposes for which public money may be expended and the power of eminent domain exercised;
(h) that a public exigency exists which makes the acquisition, planning, clearance, rehabilitation or rebuilding of such substandard, decadent or blighted open areas for residential and appurtenant or incidental facilities a public use and benefit for which private property may be acquired by eminent domain or regulated by wholesome and reasonable orders, laws and directions; and the necessity in the public interest for the provisions hereinafter enacted is hereby declared as a matter of legislative determination;
(i) that in many areas throughout the town there is a shortage of decent, safe and sanitary dwelling properly planned and related to facilities for governmental, social, business, commercial, cultural and recreational purposes; that this condition is most extreme in areas where substandard, decadent or blighted open areas exist; that the aforesaid conditions cannot be corrected by the ordinary operations of private enterprise without the aids herein provided; and
(j) that the provisions of this act will stimulate the investment of private capital in projects for the assembly and clearance of land in substandard, decadent or blighted open areas, and in the construction, maintenance and operation of such land of needed decent, safe and sanitary dwellings properly planned and related to adequate and convenient appurtenant and incidental facilities; that the construction, maintenance and operation of such facilities on such land in such areas will assist in achieving permanent and comprehensive elimination of substandard conditions and in preventing the recurrence of such conditions not only by reason of the clearance and redevelopment of such land but also by reason of its future utilization for decent, safe and sanitary housing.
SECTION 4. The town shall have the same functions, rights, powers, privileges and immunities and be subject to the same duties and obligations as provided by law in the case of a redevelopment authority and the members thereof in carrying out land assembly and redevelopment projects, community development projects and urban renewal projects and all the provisions of law applicable to redevelopment authorities in cities and towns, except as specifically provided by this act, with respect to land assembly and redevelopment projects shall be applicable to the town; and the power to initiate and carry out land assembly and redevelopment projects, community development projects and urban renewal projects in the town shall thereafter be vested solely in the town. Further, the town shall have the following powers which are specifically granted to redevelopment authorities:
(a) To conduct investigations and disseminate information relative to housing and living conditions, economic matters and on any other subject which is deemed by it to be material in connection with its powers and duties.
(b) To determine what areas within its jurisdiction constitute substandard, decadent or blighted open areas and to prepare plans for clearance thereon.
(c) To engage in land assembly and redevelopment projects and urban renewal projects.
(d) To take by eminent domain under chapter seventy-nine or chapter eighty A of the General Laws, or to purchase or lease or to acquire by gift, bequest or grant, and hold, any property real or personal, or any interest therein, found by it to be necessary or reasonably required to carry out the purposes of this act, or any of its sections, and to sell, exchange, transfer or assign the same; provided, that in case of taking by eminent domain under said chapter seventy-nine, the provisions of section forty of said chapter seventy-nine shall be applicable, except that the security therein required shall be deposited with the treasurer of the town.
(e) To clear and improve any property so acquired.
(f) To engage in or contract for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, remodeling or repair of any clearance, relocation, community development urban renewal or rehabilitation project which it is authorized to undertake.
(g) To make relocation payments to persons and businesses displaced as a result of carrying out any such project.
(h) To act as agent of, or to cooperate with the state or federal government in any clearance, land assembly and redevelopment, community development, or urban renewal project or other public improvement involving the demolition of dwelling units whenever such a land assembly and redevelopment, community development or urban renewal project or other public improvement is determined upon and the town finds that there exists in the town an acute shortage of housing and there are no adequate means available for immediate relocation of persons and families displaced from the project area.
(i) In addition to the borrowing authority conferred upon the town by the General Laws, to borrow for the purposes of paying all or any part of the costs incurred pursuant to this act, exclusive of the current maintenance and operating expenses, as from time to time such sums may be necessary, upon the security of its bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness and to secure the same by mortgages upon property held or to be held by it or by pledge of its revenue under this act, including without limitation grants and contributions by the federal government, or in any other lawful manner in connection with the incurrence of any indebtedness, to covenant that it shall not thereafter mortgage or pledge the whole or any specified part of its property or its revenues.
(j) To receive loans, grants and annual or other contributions from the federal government or from any other source, public or private.
All of the provisions of chapters one hundred and twenty-one A and one hundred and twenty-one B of the General Laws which pertain to redevelopment authorities in cities and towns which are not inconsistent with this act shall apply to the town, but in the event that there is a conflict between any provision of this act and said chapters one hundred and twenty-one A and one hundred and twenty-one B, insofar as applicable to redevelopment authorities, the provisions of this act shall govern.
SECTION 5. All books, papers, records, documents, plans and personal property of any kind in the custody or possession of the authority immediately prior to the effective date of this act shall be transferred to the custody and control of the town.
SECTION 6. The town shall be deemed an operating agency for the purposes of sections twelve to sixteen, inclusive and section twenty of chapter one hundred and twenty-one B of the General Laws.
SECTION 7. The bonds, notes and certificates of indebtedness issued under clause (i) of section four of this act, in the absence of an express recital to the contrary on the face thereof, shall constitute negotiable instruments for all purposes. They may be payable from a specific part or parts of the income of the town or constitute a general obligation thereof, may be sold at not less than par, at public or private sale, may mature at such time or times, may be secured in such manner, may provide for such rights and remedies upon their default and may contain such other covenants, terms and conditions not inconsistent with law all as may be authorized by order of the town council, and shall be signed by the town manager and by the treasurer and collector.
The bonds, notes and certificates of indebtedness of the town issued under clause (i) of section four of this act and the interest thereon shall be exempt from taxation with respect to principal and income. Bonds of the town issued under the said clause (i) shall be legal investments for the deposits and the income derived therefrom of savings banks, for the trust funds of trust companies, and for funds over which the commonwealth has exclusive control.
SECTION 8. The town may obligate itself, in any contract with the federal government for a loan or the payment of annual contributions authorized by section four of this act, to convey to the federal government the project to which such contract relates, upon the occurrence of a substantial default with respect to the covenants, terms and conditions of such contract to which the town is subject. Such contract may further provide that, in case of such conveyance, the federal government may complete, operate, manage, lease, convey or otherwise deal with the project in accordance with the terms of such contract; provided that the contract shall require that, as soon as practicable, after the federal government is satisfied that all of the defaults on account of which it acquired the project have been remedied, and that the project will thereafter be operated in compliance with the terms of the contract, the federal government shall reconvey to the city the project in the condition in which it then exists. The obligation of the town under such contract shall be subject to specific enforcement by any court having jurisdiction, and, notwithstanding any other provision of the law, shall not be deemed to constitute a mortgage.
SECTION 9. For the purpose of complying with the condition of federal and state legislation, the town may, upon such terms, and with or without consideration, do or agree to do any or all of the following:
(a) sell, convey, or lease any of its interests in any property, or grant easements, licenses or any other rights or privileges therein to the federal government;
(b) cause parks, playgrounds, or schools, or water, sewer or drainage facilities, or any other public improvements which it is otherwise authorized to undertake, to be laid out, constructed or furnished adjacent to or in connection with a housing, clearance, relocation, urban renewal, rehabilitation or community development project;
(c) lay out and construct, alter, relocate, change the grade of, make specific repairs upon or discontinue, public ways and construct sidewalks, adjacent to or through a housing, clearance, relocation, urban renewal, rehabilitation or community development project;
(d) establish exceptions to existing ordinances regulating the design, construction and use of buildings; annul or modify any action taken or map adopted under sections eighty-one A to eighty-one J, inclusive, of chapter forty-one of the General Laws;
(e) cause public improvements to be made and service facilities to be furnished with respect to a housing, clearance, relocation, urban renewal, rehabilitation or community development project for which betterments or special assessments may be levied or charges made, and assume such betterments, assessments or charges;
(f) cause private ways, sidewalks, footpaths, ways for vehicular travel, playgrounds, or water, sewer or drainage facilities and similar improvements to be constructed or furnished within the site of a project for the particular use of the project or of those dwelling therein; and
(g) do any and all other things necessary or convenient to aid and cooperate in the planning, construction or operation of housing, clearance, relocation, urban renewal, rehabilitation or community development project within its limits.
The entering of a contract under this section between the town and the state or federal government shall not be subject to any provision of law relating to publication or to advertising for bids.
SECTION 10. This act shall take effect on November first, nineteen hundred and eighty-seven.