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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSIONER OF CAPITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE TO GRANT A PERMANENT SURFACE AND SUBSURFACE EASEMENT AT THE CHESTNUT HILL RESERVATION IN THE BRIGHTON SECTION OF THE CITY OF BOSTON.

Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to establish forthwith a transfer in an interest of property in the city of Boston, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

SECTION 1. Notwithstanding sections 32 to 37, inclusive, of chapter 7C of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance, in consultation with the department of the conservation and recreation, may grant to Boston Gas Company a permanent surface and subsurface easement and right-of-way to install, operate and maintain a natural gas main and regulator station and any necessary appurtenances thereto, above and below ground. The easement shall be located on portions of a parcel of state-owned land in the city of Boston bounded by Beacon street, Chestnut Hill avenue, Commonwealth avenue, other land now and formerly of the city of Boston and land owned by the commonwealth, described in a deed recorded on April 5, 1960 in the Suffolk county registry of deeds in book 7474, page 391 and shown on a plan of land entitled “Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Metropolitan District Commission – Parks Division – BOSTON (BRIGHTON DISTRICT) – Plan of Land to be Conveyed to the Metropolitan District Commission”, dated December 2, 1959. 

SECTION 2. The easement shall be exclusive except: (i) as to the surface/above-grade portion of the easement area, which shall be used for such recreational purposes as the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance, in consultation with the commissioner of conservation and recreation, may reasonably determine to be appropriate for the benefit of the citizens of the commonwealth in accordance with this act; and (ii) as to the subsurface/below-grade portion of the easement area, the commonwealth may install, operate and maintain utility infrastructure necessary to service facilities of the commonwealth in the vicinity of the easement area. The foregoing incursions into and uses of the subsurface portion of the easement area, as set forth in clause (ii), shall be subject to compliance with the company's clearance standards existing as of the effective date of this act, including the requirement that subsurface utility infrastructure installed parallel to the company's facilities shall maintain a minimum 3-foot separation from the company's facilities, and any subsurface utility infrastructure installed above or below the company's facilities shall maintain a minimum 1-foot separation from the company's facilities. 

SECTION 3. The exact boundaries of the easement shall be determined by the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance, in consultation with the commissioner of conservation and recreation, after completion of a survey. The easement shall be subject to such additional terms and conditions as the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance, in consultation with the commissioner of conservation and recreation, may prescribe, to ensure that environmental impacts associated with the use of the parcel described in section 1 are addressed and that the conveyance results in a net benefit to the park system operated by the department of conservation and recreation. No instrument executed pursuant to this act shall be valid unless it provides that the easement shall only be used for the purposes described in section 1. The instrument shall include a reversionary clause that stipulates the easement shall revert to the commonwealth and be assigned to the care, custody and control of the department of conservation and recreation, upon such terms and conditions as the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance may determine, if the property ceases to be used for the express purposes authorized in this act. Notwithstanding section 7 of chapter 184A or any other general or special law to the contrary, the commonwealth’s reversionary interest in the easement under this section shall be permanent. If any interest reverts to the commonwealth, any further disposition shall be subject to sections 32 to 37, inclusive, of chapter 7C of the General Laws and the prior approval of the general court.

SECTION 4. The consideration for the easement authorized in subsection (a) shall be an amount equal to the full and fair market value or the value in use, whichever is greater, of the easement as determined by an independent appraisal commissioned by the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance and shall be deposited in the Conservation Trust, established by section 1 of chapter 132A of the General Laws, and used by the department of conservation and recreation for purposes of advancing the recreational and conservation interests of the commonwealth.

SECTION 5. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the inspector general shall review and approve any appraisals required pursuant to section 4. An appraisal for the full and fair market value of the easement shall be prepared in accordance with usual and customary professional appraisal practices by a qualified appraiser commissioned by the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance. The inspector general shall prepare a report of his review of the methodology utilized for the appraisal and shall file the report with the commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance, the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight. The commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance shall, 30 days before the grant of an easement authorized by this act, or a subsequent amendment thereto, submit the proposed easement and a report thereon to the inspector general for his review and comment. The inspector general shall issue his review and comment within 15 days after receipt of the proposed easement. The commissioner shall submit the proposed easement, and the reports and the comments of the inspector general, if any, to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight at least 15 days before the execution of the easement.

SECTION 6. In addition to the consideration due under section 4, the conveyance of the easement pursuant to section 1 shall be conditional upon the company mitigating the environmental impact of the easement on the park. Mitigation shall consist of: (1) improvements by the company to an existing parking area; (2) the design and implementation by the company of a landscape plan for the immediate easement area, which plan shall be subject to the review and approval of the commissioner of the division of capital asset management and maintenance, in consultation with the commissioner of the department of conservation and recreation; and (3) a $25,000 payment into the Chestnut Hill Reservation Improvement Fund established in section 7.

SECTION 7. (a) There shall be a Chestnut Hill Reservation Improvement Fund to be administered by the commissioner of conservation and recreation, without prior appropriation, to make improvements to the Chestnut Hill Reservation that advance the recreational and conservation uses of the reservation. The fund shall be credited with: (i) the payment required pursuant to section 6; (ii) gifts, grants and other private contributions designated to be credited to the fund; (iii) all other amounts credited or transferred to the fund from any other fund or source; and (iv) interest earned on any money in the fund. Any balance in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund and shall remain available for expenditure in subsequent fiscal years; provided, however, that any unexpended balance in the fund on December 30, 2020 shall revert to the General Fund. 

(b) All improvements to the Chestnut Hill Reservation made through expenditures from the fund shall be agreed upon by the commissioner of conservation and recreation and the Friends of the Chestnut Hill Reservation.

(c) For the purposes of this section, the Chestnut Hill Reservation shall consist of: (i) the parcel described in section 1; and (ii) the abutting state-owned parcel managed by the department of conservation and recreation identified as parcel 2102472000 by the assessing department in the city of Boston. 

SECTION 8. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the company shall be responsible for all costs and expenses including, but not limited to, actual costs incurred in connection with any engineering, surveys, appraisals and easement preparation related to the easement authorized in this act.

SECTION 9. Section 7 is hereby repealed.

SECTION 10. Section 9 shall take effect on December 31, 2020.

 

Approved, August 9, 2018.