SECTION 1. The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 40W the following chapter:-
CHAPTER 40X. COMMUNITY BENEFIT DISTRICTS.
Section 1. Definitions
As used in this chapter the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:
“CBD”, a Community Benefit District formed pursuant to this chapter, which is generally a contiguous geographic area with clearly defined boundaries.
“CBD management entity”, the independent non-profit entity governed by the CBD Board of Directors designated to receive funds to carry out and implement the purposes of the CBD
“Community Benefit District Board of Directors” or “Board of Directors”, a locally designated non-profit board including property owners or their designees, as well as other local stakeholders, who are assigned responsibility for the management of a Community Benefit District.
“Fee”, a payment for services or improvements specified by the CBD Management Plan.
“Management Plan”, the strategic plan for the CBD which sets forth the supplemental services and programs, boundaries, benefit zones, rates of assessments, vision, revitalization strategy, budget and fee structure, as well as the non-profit management entity for the Community Benefit District, and is approved by the local municipal governing body as part of the creation of the CBD. A CBD Management Plan shall be updated at least once every two years by the CBD Board of Directors, and a copy thereof shall be mailed, emailed, or delivered to each CBD member and filed with the local governing body.
“Local municipal governing body”, the city council or board of aldermen in a city or the board of selectmen or town council in a town.
“Petition-signer”, a property owner within the CBD who affirmatively signs the petition to establish such CBD.
“Property”, any real property located within the CBD, whether commercial, tax-exempt or residential;
“Property owner”, the owner of record of property.
“Standard government services”, governmental functions, programs, activities, facilities, improvements and other services which a municipality is authorized to perform or provide and paid for out of the local municipal government budget.
“Supplemental service”, the provision of programs, public rights of way services, activities, amenities, or information in addition to the standard governmental services provided to the CBD.
Section 2. Rights and Powers
The rights and powers of a CBD approved by a municipal governing body shall include: retaining or recruiting business; administering and managing central and neighborhood business districts; promoting economic development; managing parking; designing, engineering, constructing, maintaining, or operating buildings, facilities, urban streetscapes or infrastructures to further economic development and public purposes; conducting historic preservation activities; leasing, owning, acquiring, or optioning real property; owning and managing parks, public spaces and community facilities; supplementing maintenance, security, or sanitation; planning and designing services; formulating a fee structure; accumulating interest; incurring costs or indebtedness; entering into contracts; suing and being sued; employing legal and accounting services; undertaking planning, feasibility and market analyses; developing common marketing and promotional activities; engaging in placemaking, programming, and event management within the district; soliciting donations, sponsorships, and grants; operating transit services; and supporting public art and human and environmental services as related to the enhancement of the district or other supplemental services or programs that would further the purposes of this chapter.
Section 3. Initiation of Organization; Contents of Petition
The organization of a CBD shall be initiated by a petition of the property owners within the proposed CBD which shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the municipality. Such petition shall contain:
(a) the signatures of the property owners (petition signers) in the proposed district who support the establishment of the district and who will pay more than forty percent of the assessments proposed to be levied, with the caveat that the amount of assessment attributable to property owned by the same property owner that is in excess of 20 percent of the amount of all assessments proposed shall not be included in the calculation;
(b) a description of and a site map delineating the boundaries of the proposed CBD;
(c) the proposed Management Plan which shall set forth the supplemental services and programs, vision and revitalization strategy, and budget and fee structures;
(d) the identity and location of the management entity designated to implement and oversee the ongoing improvement plan;
(e) the criteria for waiving the fee for any property owner within the CBD who can provide evidence that the imposition of such fee would create a significant financial hardship; and
(f) a staffing plan, which may include private nonprofit, for-profit, or public agency subcontractors.
Such petition may include a mechanism for reimbursing the municipality for the costs incurred in establishing the CBD, and for costs incurred in collecting the district fees. A copy of said petition shall be filed with the Director of Housing and Community Development within thirty days of receipt of such petition by the clerk of the municipality.
Section 4. Hearing on petition; declaration of organization; notice
The local municipal governing body shall hold a public hearing within sixty days of the receipt of a petition. Written notification of such hearing shall be sent to each property owner within the boundary of the proposed CBD at least thirty days prior to such hearing, by mailing notice to the address listed in the property tax records. Notification of the hearing shall also be published for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area at least fourteen days prior to such hearing and listed on the municipality’s website. Such public notice shall contain the proposed boundaries of the CBD, the proposed fee level, the proposed benefits and the basis for determining the district fee as well as state where the property owner may obtain a full copy of the CBD Management Plan
Prior to the public hearing, the local municipal governing body shall direct the town clerk or city clerk or his designee to determine that the establishment criteria has been met as set forth in section three.
At the public hearing, the local municipal governing body shall determine if the petition satisfies the purposes set forth and the establishment criteria of this chapter and shall obtain public comment regarding the Management Plan and the effect the proposed CBD will have on the property owners, tenants, and others within the CBD. If it appears that said petition is not in conformity with the purposes and establishment criteria, the local municipal governing body shall dismiss the petition. At the public hearing, the presiding officer or clerk of said governing body shall read into the record the basis for determining the district fee pursuant to section seven and the process by which eligible property owners may dissolve the CBD.
Within forty-five days after the public hearing, the local municipal governing body, in its sole discretion, may by a vote declare the district organized and describe the boundaries and service area of the district. Upon such declaration, the CBD may commence operations.
Notice of the declaration of the organization of the CBD shall be mailed or delivered to each property owner within the proposed CBD. The notice shall explain that membership in the CBD is irrevocable until the dissolution under section 10, and shall include a description of the basis for determining the district fee, the projected fee level and the proposed services to be provided by the CBD. Such notice shall be published for 2 consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area, the last publication being not more than 30 days after the vote to declare the district organized.
Participation in the CBD shall be permanent until the dissolution of the CBD under section 10. All property owners, including public, private and nonprofit entities, shall participate, although each shall contribute based upon specified fee structures based upon the benefits anticipated to be received, as outlined in the CBD Management Plan.
Section 5. Board of directors
Each CBD shall have a non-profit Board of Directors who shall oversee the management entity to insure the implementation of the Management Plan. The CBD Board of Directors will establish bylaws for the CBD management entity, including the term for board members and the process for selecting new board members. The local municipal governing body may in its vote creating the CBD establish rules and regulations governing the CBD Board of Directors that do not infringe on the independence of the management entity. At least 51% of the Board shall be composed of property owners or their designees, and the remaining members may be a balanced set of stakeholders representing the community, including residents, municipal government, business tenants , and nonprofits.
Section 6. Property included in the fee formula; waivers
All real property located within the proposed CBD shall be considered in the fee formula for the supplemental services and programs as outlined in the improvement plan. The CBD Board of Directors, at its sole discretion, may grant a financial hardship waiver to any property owner, pursuant to the waiver criteria previously established by the CBD. Such waiver is not intended to be permanent and must be requested and granted on an annual basis and shall be based upon temporary, extraordinary circumstances. The CBD Board of Directors may also, at its discretion, approve in-kind contributions or services in addition to, or in lieu of, fees upon execution of a memorandum of agreement with a property owner.
Section 7. District fee structure
By formal approval of a CBD, the local municipal governing body shall adopt the district fee structure for the financing of items submitted in the Management Plan for the CBD; provided, however, that the total fees assessed in any one year may not exceed one-half of one percent of the sum of the assessed valuation of the real property owned by participating members in the CBD district. The basis of such district fee may be determined by a formula utilizing any one or a combination of the following: (1) different levels for varying classifications of real property; (2) benefit zones; (3) assessed valuation; (4) square footage; (5) street frontage; or (6) any other formula which meets the objectives of the CBD.
The CBD, through its Management Plan, shall have the option to limit or cap the maximum annual fee derived from individual properties or the total annual revenue generated by the CBD. The formula for determining the district fee structure shall be set forth in the original petition as required by section three. In addition to receiving funds from the district fee, the management entity shall be authorized to receive grants, donations, revenues generated from parking fees, CBD activities, or gifts on behalf of the CBD.
Section 8. Collection of fees; disbursement of funds; reporting requirements
The collector-treasurer of each municipality is hereby authorized to collect such district fees in designated CBDs and to disburse the funds to the designated management entity. The district fees collected shall be used solely to fund items to further the goals identified and approved in the Management Plan for the CBD. The collector-treasurer shall disburse revenues to the management entity no later than thirty days of the collection of such fees, together with the interest earned on the holding of such fees.
Following establishment of the CBD, all fees billed by or on behalf of the CBD and unpaid after thirty days from the date of billing shall become a lien on the property, which shall have priority over all other liens except municipal liens and mortgages of record prior to the recording of a notice of lien, if notice of the lien is duly recorded by the management entity in the appropriate registry of deeds or land court registry district. The CBD management entity shall conform with the Mass General Law Chapter 12 Section 8F in regards to nonprofit reporting requirements.
Section 9. Amendment of district boundaries
At any time after the establishment of a CBD pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, the district boundaries upon which the establishment was based may, upon the recommendation of the CBD Board of Directors, be amended by the local municipal governing body after compliance with the procedures set forth in this section.
The CBD Board of Directors shall prepare a petition, consistent with the criteria described in Section 3 in all ways except for the signatures. Instead, if the petition concerns an amendment to expand the district, the petition must be accompanied by signatures of the property owners representing no less than 40 percent of the assessed valuation in the expanded area only. If the petition concerns an amendment to reduce the size of the district, it must be accompanied by the signatures of property owners representing no less than 40 percent of the assessed valuation in the existing district.
In the case of an expansion petition, the local municipal governing body shall hold a public hearing within sixty days of the receipt of a petition. Written notification of such hearing shall be sent to each property owner within the proposed expansion area of the CBD at least thirty days prior to such hearing, by mailing notice to the address listed in the property tax records. Notification of the hearing shall also be published for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area at least fourteen days prior to such hearing and listed on the municipality’s website. Such public notice shall contain the proposed expanded boundaries of the CBD, the fee level, the benefits and the basis for determining the district fee. Upon determination by the town clerk that the petition has met the necessary criteria, the local governing body must approve within 30 days following the hearing.
In the case of a reduction petition, no public hearing is required. Upon determination by the town clerk that the petition has met the necessary criteria, the local governing body must approve within 30 days. Upon the adoption of any amendment to the district boundaries which increases the size of the district, any owner of property to be added to the district shall be notified of the new boundaries of the district in accordance with section four.
Section 10. Dissolution
A CBD may be dissolved by petition to the local municipal governing body and a subsequent decision by such governing body to authorize dissolution. In order to be considered by the local municipal governing body, a petition to dissolve a CBD shall contain the signatures of the owners of at least forty percent of the assessed valuation within the district.
The local municipal governing body shall hold a public hearing within thirty days of receipt of a completed petition on the issue of dissolution. Following the public hearing, the local municipal governing body may declare the CBD dissolved; provided, however, that no CBD shall be dissolved until it has satisfied or paid in full all of its outstanding indebtedness, obligations, and liabilities; or until funds are on deposit and available therefore; or until a repayment schedule has been formulated and municipally approved therefor. In addition, the CBD shall be prohibited from incurring any new or increased financial obligations.
Any liabilities, either current or future, incurred as a result of action to accomplish the purposes of the CBD improvement plan shall not be an obligation of the municipality, but said liabilities shall be paid for entirely from revenue gained from the project or facilities authorized, or from the fees on the properties in the CBD. Upon the dissolution of a CBD, any remaining revenues derived from the sale of assets acquired with fees collected shall be refunded to the property owners in the CBD in which fees were charged by applying the same formula used to calculate the fee in the fiscal year in which the CBD is dissolved. Nothing in this section shall prevent the filing of a subsequent petition for a similar project.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
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