Section 4. An historic district study committee may be established in any city or town by vote of the city council or board of selectmen for the purpose of making an investigation of the desirability of establishing an historic district or districts therein. The study committee shall consist of not less than three nor more than seven members appointed in a city by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the city council, or in a town by the board of selectmen, including one member from two nominees submitted by the local historical society or, in the absence thereof, by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, one member from two nominees submitted by the chapter of the American Institute of Architects covering the area, and one member from two nominees of the board of realtors, if any, covering the area. If within thirty days after submission of a written request for nominees to any of the organizations herein named no such nominations have been made the appointing body may proceed to appoint the study committee without nominations by such organization.
Whenever an historic district is established as provided in section three an historic district commission shall be established which shall consist of not less than three nor more than seven members. An historic district commission shall be appointed in a city by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the city council, or in a town by the board of selectmen, in the same manner as an historic district study committee unless (a) the report recommending its establishment recommends alternate or additional organizations to submit nominees for membership and states reasons why such alternate or additional organizations would be appropriate or more appropriate for the particular city or town, the Massachusetts historical commission does not recommend otherwise prior to the public hearing on the establishment of the district, and the ordinance or by-law so provides; or (b) there is an existing historic district commission in the city or town which the report recommends should administer the new district, and the ordinance or by-law so provides. Unless the report recommends otherwise on account of the small number of residents or individual property owners, and the ordinance or by-law so provides, the members of the historic district commission shall include one or more residents of or owners of property in an historic district to be administered by the commission. If within thirty days after submission of a written request for nominees to an organization entitled to submit nominations for membership on the commission no such nominations have been made the appointing body may proceed to make the appointment to the commission without nomination by such organization. The appointments to membership in the commission shall be so arranged that the term of at least one member will expire each year, and their successors shall be appointed in the same manner as the original appointment for terms of three years. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the unexpired term. Ordinances or by-laws adopted hereunder may provide for the appointment of alternate members not exceeding in number the principal members who need not be from nominees of organizations entitled to nominate members. In case of the absence, inability to act or unwillingness to act because of self-interest on the part of a member of the commission, his place shall be taken by an alternate member designated by the chairman. Each member and alternate shall continue in office after the expiration of his term until his successor is duly appointed and qualified. All members shall serve without compensation. The commission shall elect annually a chairman and vice-chairman from its own number and a secretary from within or without its number.