Section 17 of chapter 40A of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following paragraph:-
The court, in its discretion, may require non-municipal plaintiffs in an action under this section to post a surety or cash bond in an amount not to exceed $15,000 to secure the payment of costs in appeals of decisions approving special permits, variances and site plans where the court finds that the harm to the defendants or to the public interest resulting from the delays of appeal outweighs the burden of the surety or cash bond on the plaintiffs. When making a decision regarding surety or cash bond requirements, the court may consider the relative merits of the appeal and the relative financial means of the appellant and the defendants.
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