Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
Section 1. The city of Worcester by an affirmative vote, after a public hearing, of two-thirds of the members present and voting of the city council and any one or more of the towns of Auburn, Boylston, Clinton, Holden, Leicester, Millbury, Northboro, Paxton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Oxford, Grafton and West Boylston may, by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting of their respective town meetings and subject to the conditions specified herein, create an economic development authority which shall be a body corporate to be known as the Central Massachusetts Economic Development Authority, hereafter called the authority. Other municipalities within Worcester county which accept the provisions of this act, by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting of their respective town meetings, at any time after the formation of the authority as provided for in section sixteen of this act, shall automatically become members of the authority. The authority shall have no capacity to pledge the credit of the commonwealth or to otherwise obligate the commonwealth without specific written authorization.
SECTION 2. The purpose of the authority shall be to acquire properties contaminated by oil or hazardous material, conduct response actions thereon, and construct, develop, maintain, lease, convey or otherwise transfer such property for the beneficial reuse or redevelopment of such property to promote economic development on behalf of its member communities. Said board, as defined in this act, acting for and on behalf of said authority, may take by eminent domain under chapter seventy-nine of the General Laws or acquire by purchase or otherwise, any disposal site, as defined in section two of chapter twenty-one E, hereinafter referred to as twenty-one E sites, or a portion thereof, and associated lands, properties, water rights, rights of ways or easements, public and private, necessary for accomplishing the purposes of this act; may conduct response actions pursuant to the requirements of said chapter twenty-one E and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto; may construct, maintain or operate and lease such industrial or commercial facilities acquired by the authority, may sell by negotiation to the participating member communities of the authority or at public auction any property, including land acquired by the authority pursuant to this act and which in the authority's opinion is no longer needed in the performance of the powers and duties conferred and imposed on it by this act; may from time to time lease any property which in the authority's opinion is not needed by it for the purposes of this act and may do any other thing proper or necessary for the purposes of this act; provided, however, that said authority shall not take in fee any land of a railroad corporation and shall not enter upon or construct, maintain or operate any industrial or commercial facility within the location except as it may agree upon with such corporation, or, in the case of failure to agree, as approved by the department of public utilities.
The authority may acquire not more than three properties. The authority may at any time submit, to the house and senate committees on ways and means and to the joint committee on commerce and labor, a report proposing legislation authorizing the authority to acquire properties in addition to the three authorized herein. Any such report shall describe the following: properties acquired, response actions conducted, development activities, and income from the sale or lease of said properties.
SECTION 3. The authority may enter into agreements to indemnify and hold harmless future owners or operators of properties acquired by the authority pursuant to this act from and against liability pursuant to sections four, four A and five of chapter twenty-one E of the General Laws with respect to any releases or threats of releases of oil or hazardous material that first began to occur before that person acquires ownership or possession of the property; provided, however, that such indemnification shall not apply to any violation of or change to a restriction in use imposed on the property as part of a response action conducted by the authority. Notwithstanding any of the provisions of said chapter twenty-one E to the contrary, any person who acquires ownership or possession of property from the authority shall not be deemed an owner or operator for purposes of said chapter twenty-one E with respect to any release or threat of release of oil or hazardous material that first began to occur at or from a site or vessel before the time that such party acquired ownership or possession provided that: (1) such person is a bona fide new owner or operator and is not affiliated with any other person potentially liable for response costs or damages to natural resources caused by that release or threat of release through any direct or indirect familial relationship or any contractual, corporate or financial relationship other than that created by the instruments by which title to the property is conveyed or financed; (2) such person provides reasonable access to the site or vessel to employees, agents and contractors of the department of environmental protection to conduct response actions and to other persons intending to conduct response actions; and (3) such person does not violate or fail to comply with any restriction on future use of the site imposed pursuant to section six of said chapter twenty-one E and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto. When such a person is not an owner or operator pursuant to this section, any person who owned or operated the site or vessel immediately prior to the authority's acquisition of ownership or possession shall be deemed the owner or operator pursuant to said chapter twenty-one E.
Notwithstanding any other provision of such definition, the authority's tenants, subtenants or any other person using or acquiring a site from the owner may be deemed an owner or operator with respect to any release or threat of release that first begins to occur at or from a site or vessel after the time that the authority takes ownership or possession of it for any purpose.
SECTION 4. (a) The authority may enter into agreements with its response action contractors to indemnify and hold such contractors harmless against any liability for negligence, including legal fees and costs, if any, in an amount not to exceed a figure established by the indemnification agreement pursuant to the provisions of this section. In no event shall the amount of indemnification to be provided under an indemnification agreement exceed two million dollars for a single occurrence involving the release or threat of release of oil or hazardous material. No indemnification shall be provided pursuant to an indemnification agreement under this section if the response action contractor acts in a grossly negligent, willful, or malicious manner or if the action or omission which gives rise to a claim is not within the scope of the response action contract.
(b) The indemnification provided under this section shall apply only to response action contractor liability arising out of a release or threat of release of oil or hazardous material resulting from response actions conducted by the response action contractor pursuant to its response action contract.
SECTION 5. The authority is authorized to take or arrange for necessary response actions as determined by reference to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan. The authority shall be entitled to reimbursement from any other person liable for such release or threat of release for the reasonable costs of such response actions, including all litigation costs and attorney's fees. All claims for contribution, reimbursement or equitable share by the authority pursuant to this section and chapter twenty-one E of the General Laws shall be brought in accordance with the procedures set forth in section eleven A of said chapter twenty-one E.
The authority may enter into agreements with prior owners or operators of a site or vessel or persons who may have otherwise caused or may be legally responsible for releases or threats of releases of oil or hazardous material, to conduct or reimburse the authority for the costs of response actions. In conducting any response action pursuant to the requirements of said chapter twenty-one E and the regulations promulgated thereto, the authority shall not be exempt from any compliance or permit fees.
SECTION 6. In the event that a response action or portion of a response action conducted by the authority includes a restriction on future use of the site pursuant to section six of chapter twenty-one E of the General Laws and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, the authority shall have no liability or responsibility for any violation of such restriction or for any necessary and appropriate response action on account of use of the site by a future owner and operator contrary to the requirements of such restriction.
SECTION 7. Except as expressly provided by this section, the authority shall not be deemed an "owner" or "operator" under the provisions of clauses (2) and (5) of paragraph (a) of section five of chapter twenty-one E of the General Laws and shall be excluded from the definition of "owner" or "operator" with respect to releases and threats of releases that first begin to occur before the authority acquires ownership or possession of a site or vessel; provided, however, that upon acquiring ownership or possession of a site or vessel, said authority shall:
(1) provide notice to the department of environmental protection immediately upon obtaining knowledge of release or threat of release of oil or hazardous material for which notification is required pursuant to, and in compliance with, section seven of said chapter twenty-one E or regulations promulgated pursuant thereto;
(2) provide reasonable access to the site or vessel to employees, agents and contractors of said department to conduct response actions, if necessary, and to other persons intending to conduct necessary response actions;
(3) take or arrange for any and all response actions necessary and appropriate regarding releases or threats of releases under said chapter twenty-one E and any regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.
In the event that the department incurs response action costs in connection with any site acquired by the authority, the authority shall reimburse the department for such reasonable response action costs.
SECTION 8. The authority shall be under the management and control of a board that is hereby created and which shall be known as the central Massachusetts economic development board, hereinafter called the board.
SECTION 9. The board may enter upon any land for the purpose of making surveys, environmental site assessments, test pits and borings and may take, by eminent domain under chapter seventy-nine of the General Laws by purchase or otherwise, the right to temporarily occupy any lands necessary for the carrying out of said purpose.
SECTION 10. The authority, by vote of the board, is hereby authorized to issue from time to time, general obligation serial bonds or notes of the authority to pay for the costs of capital outlays in connection with assessment, containment and removal activities at properties acquired by the authority and in connection with the construction and operation of industrial and commercial facilities and such other works as may be required, including land damages and costs of demolition of existing structures, on lands that may be required.
Said bonds are to be issued in such amount or amounts as the authority, acting by and through the board, may determine and the authority may refund any such bonds and notes. Such serial bonds and notes may be callable with or without premium and shall contain such terms and conditions, bear such rate or rates of issue, be sold in such manner, at private or public sale, and mature in such times and in such amounts as the board shall determine; provided, however, that each issue of such bonds and notes shall be payable in annual installments, the first of which shall be payable not later than two years after its date and the last of which will be payable not more than thirty years from said date.
If the board votes to issue serial bonds or notes, said board may authorize the issuance in the name of the authority, of general obligation temporary bonds or notes for a period of not more than two years in anticipation of the money to be received from the sale of such serial bonds or notes. The time within which such serial notes or bonds are issued shall not be extended by reason of the making of such temporary loans beyond the time fixed in the order authorizing such temporary bonds or notes.
For the purpose of paying the expenses of operations including, without limitation, any principal or interest due or about to become due on any bond or note issued by the authority in which funds are not available, the board, in the name of the authority is hereby authorized to issue from time to time general obligation temporary notes of the authority in anticipation of assessments against member communities of the authority and in the year such notes are issued.
Temporary notes in anticipation of assessment shall be payable not more than one year from their date and shall not exceed, in principal amount, the amount of the outstanding assessment in anticipation of which they are issued.
Temporary notes issued under this section for a shorter period than the maximum permitted may be renewed by the issuance of other temporary notes maturing within the required period; provided, however, that the period from the date of issue of the original temporary notes to the date of maturity of the renewal notes shall not exceed the maximum period for which the original notes may have been issued. Such temporary notes or renewal notes may be sold at discount or with interest payable at or before maturity.
Notes or bonds authorized by this section shall be signed by the treasurer of the board, as defined herein, and countersigned by the chairman of the board, as defined herein, and serial bonds and notes shall have the authority's seal affixed thereto. Section sixteen B of chapter forty-four of the General Laws shall be applicable to any such bonds and notes.
Each municipality's share of debt incurred by the authority shall be included in the calculation of the municipality's debt limit under section ten of chapter forty-four of the General Laws, and no municipality's total share of debt authorized to be issued by the authority shall exceed one-tenth of that municipality's debt limit under said section ten. A city or town council or town meeting that approves, pursuant to the provisions of section eleven, a municipality's participation in a debt-financed project of the authority shall approve a maximum dollar limit on the municipality's participation and shall notify the director of accounts in accordance with section twenty-eight of said chapter forty-four within forty-eight hours of any votes approving participation in such projects of the authority. A municipality may rescind a vote to participate in an authority project at any time before debt is issued or contracts are entered into by the authority in reliance upon the municipality's participation.
SECTION 11. The cost of the original response action, acquisition, design and construction of the industrial or commercial facilities shall be apportioned among the participating member cities and towns in accordance with the level of participation approved by said cities and towns. A "participant" or "participating city or town" shall mean a member which has been authorized by its city or town council or town meeting, by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting, after a public hearing, and after recommendation by the chief executive of the municipality to the same extent that said recommendation would be required for an appropriation, to obligate the community to participate financially in a particular project, and said participation has been approved by the board. The board shall not approve the participation of any city or town in any project unless the director submits a detailed action plan, including a complete statement of financial and environmental costs and benefits, which demonstrates that revenue from the project can reasonably be expected to meet or exceed costs. When appropriate, said report shall recognize costs to establish a reserve or purchase insurance to protect the authority against future liability. Said report shall be available to each community prior to any vote to participate in the project.
SECTION 12. The board shall annually adopt an operating budget to provide for funds for personal services, expenses, capital outlay and amounts required for the payment of principal and interest on such bonds and notes issued or to be renewed by the authority which shall be due during the ensuing fiscal year. The board shall apportion the amount so determined among the members of the authority in accordance with provisions of this section.
Personnel, services, expenses and capital outlay costs as contained in the annual operating budget of the authority shall be apportioned equally among the members.
Amounts required for the payment of principal and interest on bonds and notes issued or to be renewed by the authority which shall be due during the ensuing fiscal year shall be apportioned among the members of the authority in accordance with the provisions of section eleven. Each amount so apportioned for each member shall, prior to December thirty-first of each year, be certified by the board of assessors of each city or town of such authority. The assessors of each city or town shall, without further vote, include each amount so certified in those amounts to be annually raised by taxes under section twenty-three of chapter fifty-nine of the General Laws, the respective city or town shall pay the amount so certified to the treasurer of the authority on or before July first of the then taxable year.
A city or town that has been assessed may raise all or a portion of the amounts certified annually by the authority to the assessors of each city or town as provided in this act.
SECTION 13. The amount of money required each year by each city or each town in accordance with the apportionment determined as aforesaid shall be assessed upon each city, and each town in each year. Each such city and town shall be notified of the amount of such assessment by February first of the year following, which amount shall be paid by each city and town to the treasurer of said authority on or before July fifteenth following the receipt of notice of the amount of said assessment.
SECTION 14. To meet the costs of construction, maintenance, and operation of the facilities authorized by this act, the authority may file an application for, or accept and use, any federal or state funds or grants or any federal or state assistance, or both, provided therefor under any federal or state law or funds from any other sources.
SECTION 15. No lands, rights of ways or other easements, property, structures or rights acquired by the authority, as herein provided, and located in the city or town in the authority shall be assessed or taxed by the municipality so long as such property is owned by the authority, response actions are ongoing and the property and improvements thereon are not in beneficial reuse by the third party as so determined in the judgment of the board. Following the completion of the response actions or transfer or upon beneficial reuse of the property it shall be assessed or taxed by the municipality where the property is located and the municipality shall be responsible for paying annually on July first each year to each city or town which is a member of the authority, less one percent of the tax collected to be paid as administrative fee, to the city or town wherein said property is located, an amount equal to the amount it would receive if said property was located within its municipal boundaries in proportion to the amount of investment the city or town has made in said property pursuant to section eleven.
SECTION 16. The board shall consist of one resident from each municipality that has voted to accept the provisions of this act and is a member of the Central Massachusetts Economic Development Authority. The city of Worcester shall have one member on the board. Official action shall require a positive vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the board.
The member of the board for the city of Worcester shall be appointed by the city manager. Members of the board from the towns shall be appointed by the board of selectmen or the town manager in those communities with a town manager form of government, according to each community's applicable provisions of law. Members appointed to the board shall be residents or municipal employees of the community they represent.
Members of the board shall be appointed by the legal appointing authorities for terms of three years. Each member shall serve until the qualification of a successor. Board members may be reappointed by the legal appointing authority of such member's municipality as long as such municipality remains a member of the authority.
SECTION 17. The board shall appoint and determine the compensation of an authority director who shall be the chief executive officer of the authority and shall administer the affairs and direct the work of the authority as approved by the board; provided, however, that the authority director shall not hold any elective office except that of town meeting member in any town within the jurisdiction of the authority. The board shall set forth the powers and duties of the authority's director in its by-laws.
The authority's director may, upon approval of the board or as otherwise provided in the authority's by-laws, enter into agreements for professional construction services to be provided to the authority by private contractors. The authority director shall be familiar with economic development in central Massachusetts and shall possess such other qualifications as may be determined by the board.
SECTION 18. The authority shall have a seal consisting of a circular die bearing the words "Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Central Massachusetts Economic Development Authority", which seal shall be used whenever deemed advisable by the board on papers and documents issued or executed by the board or by any officer or employee designated by the board.
SECTION 19. The board shall prepare and adopt by-laws describing and stipulating its organization and operations. The board members shall, annually, in the month of April, select a chairman, vice-chairman and secretary from among the membership who shall act as an executive committee. Members of the board may receive compensation from the authority which shall not exceed five hundred dollars per year for a board member or one thousand dollars per year for the chairman, vice-chairman or secretary. Board members may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties on approval of the board.
The board shall appoint, and may at its pleasure, remove a treasurer and a clerk who shall not be members of the board. Both offices, if the board deems advisable, may be held by the same person. The treasurer shall give the board a bond payable to the authority with a surety company authorized to transact business within the commonwealth and satisfactory to the board surety in such sums as the board may prescribe and conditioned on the faithful performance of the duties of treasurer. The duties of the treasurer and the clerk shall be those usually pertaining to such offices and such as may from time to time be prescribed by the board. The board may retain legal counsel for any and all appropriate purposes.
The director, with the approval of the board, shall from time to time appoint or employ such other experts, agents, officers, clerks, and other employees as deemed necessary and shall determine their duties. The salaries or compensation of all persons appointed or employed under authority of this section shall be determined by the board and together with other expenses shall be paid by the authority and shall be considered a part of the expense of maintenance of the authority. The board shall establish an office within Worcester county in which its business shall be conducted and in which plans, documents, records and other paper relating to its business, land and other works and properties shall be kept.
The authority shall at all times keep full and accurate accounts of its receipts, expenditures, disbursements, assets and liabilities, which shall be open at all times for inspection by the city, the towns, or other groups who are members of the authority or by any officer or duly appointed agent of the commonwealth.
The board shall make a report each year of its activities for the preceding year and shall, prior to February first submit a copy to the state auditor and to participating cities and towns. The report shall also be submitted to the department of environmental protection.
SECTION 20. At any time not less than eight years after the acceptance of this act by a town or city, said town or city may, after approval by two-thirds of the qualified voters present and voting at an annual or special town meeting or election, notify the board of its desire to withdraw from the authority. Such withdrawals shall become effective in not less than two years after the receipt of such notice by the board and only after approval by the majority of the board. In the event of such withdrawal the withdrawing city or town shall:
(1) continue to pay annually to the authority a share of the debt outstanding at the time of withdrawal at a rate prevailing at the time of withdrawal until a share of such debt shall be paid in full;
(2) be paid by the authority for a share of those taxes or lease payments which accrue to the participant or participating community in accordance with the original commitment of said participant or participating community to a particular project as described in this act.
SECTION 21. The provisions of this act shall not take effect until acceptance by at least one town meeting and the city council of the city of Worcester, pursuant to section one. Initial organization of the board representing the Central Massachusetts Economic Development Authority shall take place within one hundred and eighty days after the affirmative vote of the town meeting or city council for the formation of the authority. If the board does not organize itself and form the authority within one hundred and eighty days, the action of the city council or town meeting shall be null and void.
SECTION 22. The authority shall provide for early direct and meaningful community involvement in each significant phase of response activities taken under the authority which shall include providing the community with access to information necessary to develop meaningful comments on critical decisions regarding site characterization, risks posed by the site, and selection of removal actions.
The process for involvement shall include: (1) site assessment - whenever practicable, during the site assessment, the authority shall solicit and evaluate the concerns and interests of the community likely affected by the site by whatever means deemed appropriate by the authority, (2) site cleanup - after assessment and feasibility study and a method of cleanup has been determined, the authority shall solicit the views and preferences of the community likely affected by this cleanup including the disposition of the hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants at the site.
SECTION 23. This act shall take effect upon its passage.