Section 5: Sale of land or conversion to other use
Section 5. Land within an agricultural incentive area shall not be sold for or converted to residential, industrial or commercial use or removed from the area unless the city or town in which such land is located and the department of food and agriculture on behalf of the state has been notified of the intent to sell or convert to such other use or remove said land from the area; provided, however, that the discontinuance of the use of such land for agricultural or horticultural purposes shall not be deemed a conversion to another use. Specific use of land for a residence for the owner or a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or brother or sister of the owner, or the surviving husband or wife of any deceased such relative, or for living quarters for any person actively employed full time in the agricultural or horticultural use of such land, shall not be deemed a conversion to another use for the purposes of this section, and a certificate of the board of assessors, recorded at the appropriate registry of deeds or land registration office, shall conclusively establish that a particular use is such use. Such notice of intent shall be sent by the landowner by registered mail, return receipt requested, to the mayor and city council of a city, or to the board of selectmen of a town, to its planning board and conservation commission, and to the commissioner of the department of food and agriculture. For a period of sixty days subsequent to the mailing of such notice, the city or town, or the commonwealth shall have, in the case of intended sale, a first refusal option to meet a bona fide offer to purchase said land or, in the case of intended conversion to residential, commercial or industrial use not involving sale and not specifically exempted herein, an option to purchase said land at full and fair market value to be determined by impartial appraisal in accordance with recognized professional standards. No sale or conversion to another use of such land shall occur until either said option period shall have expired or the landowner shall have been notified in writing by the mayor or board of selectmen of the city or town in question, and by the commissioner that said option will not be exercised. Such option shall be exercised by written notice signed by the mayor or board of selectmen or by the commissioner mailed within the option period to the landowner by registered mail at such address as may be specified in his notice of intent and recorded with the appropriate registry of deeds or land registration office. Such option may only be exercised by the municipality or the department upon a showing that there are sufficient funds available to exercise said option.
The notice of intent, notice of exercise of the option and notice of nonexercise of the option, shall contain the name of the record owner of the land and a description of the premises so to be sold or converted adequate for identification thereof.
The option to purchase may be exercised by the commissioner, or municipality acting jointly or individually in one or more of the following ways; provided, however, that a determination has made made in writing that such purchase will likely result in the land remaining actively devoted to agricultural, horticultural, or agricultural and horticultural use as defined in sections one to five, inclusive, of chapter sixty-one A:
(a) purchase of all or part of the property in fee; provided, however, that there is a purchaser for the remaining property.
(b) purchase of an agricultural preservation restriction on all or part of the property pursuant to the provisions of section eleven A to eleven D, inclusive, of chapter one hundred and thirty-two A; provided however, that there is a purchaser for the remaining property and the residual agricultural interest in the property under the above restriction.
(c) purchase of all or part of the property by a private land trust or other charitable corporation which has received authorization from the commissioner to exercise such option on behalf of the department of food and agriculture for the purpose of acquiring an agricultural preservation restriction on the agricultural land provided, however that such trust or charitable corporation has been established at least twelve months prior to such notice of intent.
If the municipality or the commissioner does not exercise said option to purchase, said land shall be removed from the area.
The provisions of this section shall not be applicable with respect to a mortgage foreclosure sale, except that the holder of a mortgage shall, at least thirty days before a foreclosure sale, send written notice, by registered mail, of the time and place of such sale, to the parties and in the manner provided for in this section for notice of intent to sell or convert.
Notwithstanding the aforesaid provisions, a landowner may notify the committee by registered mail, return receipt requested, of his intent to withdraw from an agricultural incentive area. Said withdrawal shall be effective two years from the date of said notification.