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General Laws

Section 33. For the purposes of sections 33 to 40, inclusive, the term “emergency” shall mean any situation caused by unforeseen circumstances which render currently used real property unusable or unavailable for the purposes intended and which creates an immediate need for other real property to preserve the health or safety of persons or property.

The commissioner of capital asset management and maintenance shall be responsible for the acquisition, control and disposition of real property in the manner and to the extent provided in this chapter. The commissioner may delegate such responsibility to an administrator, who has 10 years of experience in the management of commercial, industrial, institutional or public real property. When responsibility is delegated to an administrator the written approval of the commissioner shall be required before such transaction is finalized.

The commissioner shall acquire interest in real property on behalf of the commonwealth for the use of state agencies by gift, purchase, devise, grant, eminent domain, rental, lease, rental-purchase or otherwise.

In acquiring buildings for the use of state agencies, first consideration shall be given to any structures that have been certified as historic landmarks as provided by sections 26 to 27C, inclusive, of chapter 9, that have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as provided by 16 U.S.C. section 470a (1974) or that have been designated historic landmarks by local historic commissions, unless use of such buildings would not be feasible in terms of costs and requirements when compared with other available properties.

Notwithstanding any laws to the contrary, real property acquired for the use of state agencies shall be held in the name of the commonwealth.

The commissioner shall assist in the preparation and shall approve of plans for the organization of all space within and around buildings and appurtenant structures used by state agencies, and shall assign the use of space within and around the state house, subject to such rules as the committee on rules of the two branches acting concurrently may adopt, under sections 10, 16A and 17 of chapter 8 the John W. McCormack State Office Building; the Leverett Saltonstall State Office Building; the Springfield Office Building; the Pittsfield Office Building; the Erich Lindemann Building; the Charles F. Hurley Building; any real property acquired for the use of state agencies, the greater part of which is not needed by any one state agency; and any other real property assigned by law to the division of capital asset management and maintenance.

The commissioner, with the written approval of the secretary of administration and finance, may transfer use of, and responsibility for maintenance of, buildings, including equipment therein, within or between state agencies. No such transfer within or between state agencies which involves either a change in the purposes for which such building is currently used or a change in use in excess of 50 per cent of the usable floor space, shall be made without the prior approval of the general court. Any such transfer shall be based on a determination, made by the commissioner with the advice of the executive heads of affected agencies and secretaries of the executive offices in which such agencies are located, that such property is not needed, is underutilized, or is not being put to optimum use under current conditions. The commissioner shall notify the house and senate committees on ways and means and the representatives to the general court from the city or town in which such real property is located not less than 30 days prior to the final authorization of any transfer which does not require the approval of the general court, and such transfer shall only be made when the general court is in session except as provided hereafter. Such transfer may be made when the general court is not in session, and the 30 day notification requirement may be waived, only if the commissioner certifies in writing that an emergency exists; provided that, any such transfer may be authorized for a period not to exceed 6 months, and provided, further, that the commissioner shall submit his certification to and notify the house and senate ways and means committees of such transfer at the earliest possible opportunity.

The commissioner may, after notification to and with the advice of the executive heads of state agencies and secretaries of the executive offices, determine that real property is not needed for the use of any state agency. If the commissioner determines that such property is surplus to both the current and foreseeable needs of state agencies, the commissioner shall determine whether any other public agency has a current or foreseeable direct public use for the property. For the purposes of determining whether property is surplus to direct public use, direct public use is defined in this section as use of property for a public agency’s own operations, but does not include conveyance by such agency of any interest in the property to another party, but does include lease of the property by local housing authorities to public housing tenants.

When property is determined to be surplus, to either current state or current direct public uses, but not to foreseeable state or foreseeable direct public uses, the commissioner shall take such action as is necessary to ensure that any disposition of the property is temporary and maintains the commissioner’s ability to make such property available to a state agency or other public agency at such time as it is needed.

If the commissioner determines that the property is not needed for current or foreseeable state or direct public use as defined above and that the property should be disposed of, the commissioner shall declare that the property is available for disposition and shall identify restrictions, if any, on the property’s use and development necessary to comply with established state and local plans and policies, and the commissioner shall send written notification of such to the house and senate committees on ways and means, and the joint committee on state administration.

The commissioner may convene an advisory committee to advise him on reuses and to recommend reuse restrictions for property declared surplus; provided however that the Commissioner shall not convene a new advisory committee to advise on reuses if a re-use committee is currently active. If an advisory committee is convened, the commissioner shall invite the representatives to the general court from the city or town in which the property is located to serve on the committee. The commissioner shall prepare a preliminary report on his findings, which shall include both his recommendation, and those of the advisory committee if established, for reuse restrictions for the property.

The commissioner shall conduct a public hearing to consider potential reuses and reuse restrictions for the surplus property and to review the secretary of administration and finance preliminary report if the property exceeds 2 acres or if the commissioner determines that a hearing should be held for a smaller parcel. If the commissioner determines to conduct a hearing, the commissioner shall provide notice in the central register of the public hearing at least 60 days prior to (1) notification to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on state administration, of a temporary disposition of property to a public agency for less than 5 years for a direct public use, or (2) submission of a request to the general court for authority to otherwise dispose of real property as provided in this section. A notice of the public hearing shall also be placed, at least once each week for the 4 consecutive weeks preceding the hearing, in newspapers with sufficient circulation to inform the people of the affected locality. The hearing shall be held in the locality in which the property is located not sooner than 30 days and not later than 35 days after the notice is published in the central register.

The commissioner may, with the written approval of the secretary of administration and finance, enter into agreements for the direct public use of surplus real property by public agencies other than state agencies, for a term not to exceed 5 years. Such agreement shall prohibit subsequent conveyance of interest in the property by the public agency to another party. The commissioner shall notify the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight 30 days prior to the final authorization of any such agreement. The notification shall include the commissioner’s report on recommended reuse restrictions. In no event shall any such agreement be made when the general court is not in session.

The commissioner shall establish the value of surplus property through procedures customarily accepted by the appraising profession as valid for determining property value. The value shall be calculated both for: (1) the highest and best use of the property as currently encumbered; and (2) uses and encumbrances defined by the commissioner.

The commissioner may, with the approval of the secretary of administration and finance, request from the general court authorization to dispose of state real property determined to be surplus to state agency needs: (1) to public agencies of the commonwealth other than state agencies for direct public uses, over a period exceeding 5 years, (2) to a public agency of the commonwealth other than a state agency, for uses other than direct public uses, and (3) to an individual, entity, or the federal government; or any extension of any agreement for such use beyond a cumulative period of 5 years. Accompanying his request for authorization to dispose of property, the commissioner shall submit his report including a description of the property, its current use, structures, and approximate metes and bounds, the value of the property and recommended restrictions, if any, on reuses of the property. The commissioner shall also request authorization to negotiate real property disposition agreements with parties to be selected by the commissioner after the commissioner evaluates competitive proposals. Disposition agreements subsequently negotiated by the commissioner shall be consistent with the reuse restrictions approved by the general court.

Notwithstanding this section, leases for agricultural purposes on land owned by the commonwealth shall be made for a term of not more than 5 years, and the renewal date for such leases shall not be less than 1 year prior to the end of the lease period. Holders of such leases shall be given the opportunity to renew such leases for a consideration equal to the current lease amount plus an escalation amount to be established annually by the commissioner for application to all such leases.

The commissioner shall monitor compliance with disposition agreements.

The commissioner shall develop regulations governing the conditions under which the commissioner will recommend to the general court that a public agency, including but not limited to the government land bank, receive title to surplus property for other than direct public use.

For petitions which authorize the sale, transfer or other disposition of any state-owned real property filed by persons other than the governor, the legislative committee to which that petition may be referred shall solicit a report from the commissioner stating the recommendation of the commissioner for either the approval or the disapproval of the bill and the reasons of the commissioner therefor.

If the commissioner is recommending the approval of a bill proposing the disposition of a parcel exceeding 2 acres, said report shall include: (1) a description of the property including its current use, structures, and approximate metes and bounds; (2) the value of the property, determined through procedures customarily accepted by the appraising profession as valid for such purposes, calculated both for (a) the highest and best use of the property as currently encumbered and (b) uses and encumbrances that would be imposed by the bill if enacted; (3) all current and foreseeable direct public uses identified by following the division’s procedures for such purposes as they apply to the property to be disposed (4) other potential public and private uses of the property; and (5) any other information the general court may require.

The commissioner shall expeditiously review and recommend approval or disapproval of any proposal to the general court for the sale, rental or other disposition of real property acquired on behalf of state agencies, and shall dispose of real property as mandated by the general court. All legislation submitted to the general court by the division of capital asset management and maintenance requesting authorization to convey or transfer real property under its jurisdiction shall be accompanied by a full report outlining the division’s reasons for pursuing said conveyance or transfer.

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