SECTION 1. Section 4 of chapter 40C of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2020 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 12, the word “and”.
SECTION 2. Said section 4 of chapter 40C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting, in line 13, after the word “area” the following words:-
“ , at least one building contractor with no less than 5 years of experience in the historical building trade, and one solar energy systems industry representative. If the building contractor is also an industry representative, only one member is needed. Contractors and industry representatives must be appointed annually.”
SECTION 3. Section 7 of chapter 40C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the last sentence.
SECTION 4. Said section 7 of chapter 40C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “access.”, in line 17, the following sentences:-
“Historic district commissions must give a written notice of a denial of a solar energy system application to the applicant within 14 days of its filing and post a fully signed copy on the internet website of their governing municipality within three days of issuance. As part of the notice, an applicant must be provided with rationale for the denial, including but not limited to: (i) criterion that triggered the rejection; (ii) how the proposal meets the criterion; and (iii) recommend changes to the application that would improve the chance of approval upon resubmission.”
SECTION 5. Section 11 of chapter 40C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the wording, in lines 37 and 38, after the word “if” and inserting in place thereof the following wording:-
“applicants for solar energy system installations can secure a waiver from the hearing with the written signature of five property owners within a mile of the residence or commercial structure in question, upon which the panels will be built.”
SECTION 6. Section 12 of chapter 40C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the last sentence of the first paragraph the following sentence:-
“The appellate body should overrule the historic district commission decision if it violates prior documented criterion from that historic district commission for approval of residential solar energy system installation.”
SECTION 7. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, there shall be a special state-wide commission to design, standardize, and draft suggested guidelines for compliant solar energy system installations within historic districts by December 1, 2022. The commission may include representatives of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the solar installation industry, regional planning agencies, and historic district commissions within each county in Massachusetts to study matters relative to the rights of residents or landowners within a historic district to install arrays of solar energy systems on land or buildings. If a district requires a modification of the State guidelines, they must file an exemption clause to their regional planning agency justifying their need to add or remove a clause and shall upload their specific guidelines to their internet website.
SECTION 8. Section 9(b) of chapter 395 of the acts of 1970, as amended by section 2 of Chapter 57 of the acts of 2000, is hereby further amended by inserting after the word “vicinity” the following words:-
“ and outside the Old Historic Districts of Town and Sconset the Historic District Commission shall allow for the visible integration of solar panels and renewable energy systems,”
SECTION 9. The Old Kings Highway Historic District Commission, as established by chapter 470 of the Acts of 1973, shall allow for the integration and installation of solar panels and other renewable energy systems on real private property within the historic district, provided that such installation maintains principals of minimal visual impact, which, for the purposes of this section, is defined as installation of new ecological technologies, including, but not limited to, solar energy systems, within historic districts, shall be done in a manner that minimizes how visible the installation is in relation to Massachusetts State Highway Route 6A and, to the extent possible, while ensuring the integrity of the installation, avoids making significant changes to preexisting historical architecture.
SECTION 10. Section 7 of chapter 470 of the Acts of 1973 is hereby amended by inserting after the word “act” at the end of the first paragraph the following:- “; nor shall anything in this act be construed to prevent the erection, construction, reconstruction, restoration, alteration or demolition of any such existing feature which is done to increase the energy efficiency of any building or structure, including, but not limited to the installation of solar panels, and other renewable energy systems, within the district”.
SECTION 11. Section 12 of chapter 470 of the acts of 1973 is hereby repealed.
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