Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 53 of chapter 44 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, the conservation commission of the town of North Andover may, upon promulgation in accordance with this act of rules and regulations, provide for the imposition of reasonable fees for the employment of consultants. Such fees shall be deposited in a special account for the review of petitions or applications required by state or federal law or local by-law filed with it for review or approval. Such rules or regulations shall provide for an administrative appeal from the selection of the outside consultant to the board of selectmen. The grounds for such appeal shall be limited to claims that the consultant selected has a conflict of interest or does not possess the minimum, required qualifications. The minimum qualifications shall consist either of an educational degree in or related to the field at issue or three or more years of practice in the field at issue or related field. The required time limits for action upon an application or petition by the municipal permit granting board shall be extended by the duration of the administrative appeal. In the event that no decision is made by the board of selectmen within one month following the filing of such appeal, the selection made by the conservation commission shall stand. Such administrative appeal shall not preclude further judicial review, if otherwise permitted by law, on the grounds provided for in this act. Any such account shall be established by the town treasurer and shall be kept separate and apart from other monies. The special account, including accrued interest, if any, shall be expended at the direction of said conservation commission without further appropriation; provided, however, that such funds are to be expended by it only in connection with carrying out its responsibilities under law. Any excess amount in the account attributable to a specific project, including any accrued interest, at the completion of said project shall be repaid to the applicant or to the applicant's successor in interest and a final report of said account shall be made available to the applicant or the applicant's successor in interest. The town accountant shall submit annually a report of said special account to the board of selectmen to review. Such report shall be published in the town report. Said town accountant shall submit annually a copy of said report to the director of the bureau of accounts.