Section 7L. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department may, with the approval of the governor, lease at one time or from time to time for a term or terms not to exceed ninety-nine years, upon such terms and conditions as the department in its discretion deems advisable, air rights over state highways, including rights for support, access, utilities, light and air, for such nonhighway purposes as, in the opinion of the department, will not impair the construction, full use, safety, maintenance or repair of state highways. Any lease granted under this section may, with the consent of the department, be assigned, pledged or mortgaged and the lien of such pledge or mortgage may be foreclosed by appropriate action. The proceeds from any such lease shall be paid into the treasury of the commonwealth for credit to the Highway Fund.
The construction or occupancy of any building or other thing erected or affixed under any lease under this section shall be subject to the building, fire, garage, health and zoning ordinances, by-laws, rules and regulations applicable in the city or town in which such building or other thing is located.
Any building, or other thing erected or affixed under any such lease under this section shall be taxed to the lessee thereof or his assigns in the same manner and to the same extent as if such lessee or his assigns were the owners of the land in fee; provided that no part of the value of the land shall be included in any such assessment. Any such leasehold estate may be sold or taken by the collector of taxes of the city or town in which the said leasehold estate is situated for the nonpayment of any taxes assessed as aforesaid in the manner provided by law for the sale or taking of real estate for nonpayment of local taxes. Said collector shall have for the collection of taxes assessed under this section all other remedies provided by the general laws for the collection of taxes by collectors of cities and towns.
The department shall include in any lease of such air rights a provision whereby the lessee agrees, in the event that the foregoing tax provision is determined by a court of competent jurisdiction to be inapplicable, to pay annually to the city or town in which the building or other thing leased is located, a sum of money in lieu of taxes which would otherwise be assessed in such year.
Each lease made pursuant to this section shall require that the lessee file with the department a statement under oath containing the names and addresses of the officers and directors, in the case of a corporation, and in the case of a partnership or other voluntary association, the name and address of all persons having a financial or beneficial interest in said lease. The lessee shall within thirty days after any change in the said officers or directors, or of persons holding any such interest file a corrected statement under oath with the department.
No billboards shall be erected under the provisions of this section.