Section 6: Project approval; procedure
Section 6. Whenever the housing board is asked to approve a project under this chapter, it shall transmit the application to the mayor of the city or the selectmen of the town in which the proposed project is to be located. The mayor or the selectmen, as the case may be, shall forthwith transmit said application to the planning board and, in a city, the city council. If, in any town, there is no planning board, the selectmen shall act as the planning board.
In a town a public hearing shall be held before the planning board and, in a city, before the planning board and the city council jointly, within forty-five days after the transmittal of the application by the mayor or selectmen. Notice of such hearing shall be given pursuant to section six B. Following such hearing, the planning board and, where applicable, the city council, shall thereafter determine that blighted open or decadent or sub-standard conditions exist within the proposed project area; that the project is not in contravention of any zoning, subdivision, health or building ordinance or by-law or rules and regulations of the city or town; whether or not the proposed project conflicts with the master plan of the city or town made by authority of chapter forty-one, if such a plan has been made, determine whether or not such project would be in any way detrimental to the best interests of the public or the city or town or to the public safety and convenience or be inconsistent with the most suitable development of the city or town; whether or not the proposed project will constitute a public use and benefit; the feasibility of the method of relocation and existence or availability of dwellings for displaced families as hereinafter provided; and approve, disapprove with recommended modifications or disapprove the application and issue its report as hereinafter provided.
In a city, the report of the planning board shall be transmitted to the city council within forty-five days after the public hearing and the city council shall, after receipt of the report of the planning board, and within ninety days of the public hearing, transmit its report to the mayor. In a town, the planning board shall transmit its report to the board of selectmen within ninety days after the public hearing.
All such reports shall be in writing, shall approve or disapprove the project within the meaning of this section and shall contain the hearing authority's reasons for such approval or disapproval. All such reports shall be open to public inspection. At the time a report is transmitted, copies shall be sent by the hearing authority by certified mail to all persons who were notified of the hearing as provided in section six B. For the purposes of this section and section six C, the date of transmittal shall be the date of mailing of such copies. In a city, a report of a planning board, whether it approves, disapproves, or disapproves with recommended changes, shall be considered as advisory by the city council, mayor, and housing board.
If the planning board in a city disapproves the project, it may recommend changes in the project to the city council. If the planning board in a town or the city council disapproves the project, it may suggest changes in the project which, if adopted would meet its objections. The applicant may amend such application in accordance with the changes suggested and resubmit the application as amended to the planning board in the case of towns or city council in the case of cities for approval. The planning board or city council, as the case may be, may approve or disapprove the application as amended, without further public hearing, unless, in its opinion, the proposed change is a fundamental one, in which event the planning board in a town or city council and planning board in a city shall hold a further public hearing and the provisions of this section with respect to an original application shall be applicable thereto.
If the carrying out of a project will involve the taking of property by eminent domain or the destruction or rehabilitation of buildings occupied in whole or in part as dwellings, the planning board and, where applicable, the city council, shall determine whether or not there are, or are being provided in the project area or in other areas not generally less desirable in regard to public utilities and public and commercial facilities and at rents or prices within the financial means of the families displaced from the project area, decent, safe and sanitary dwellings equal in number to the number of, and available to, such displaced families and reasonably accessible to their places of employment and, unless the planning board and, where applicable, the city council find that there is such a feasible method and that such dwellings exist or are being provided, a project shall not be approved.
As used in this section ''council'' shall mean the city council or similar legislative body of a city and ''selectmen'' shall mean the board of selectmen or similar legislative body of a town; and whenever the approval of the planning board, council or selectmen is required, such approval shall be deemed given if voted by a majority of the members of such planning board, council or selectmen.
The mayor or selectmen, within thirty days after transmittal of the report from the planning board and where apt the city council, shall transmit all such reports to the housing board, together with a certificate evidencing his or their approval or disapproval of the project.
The housing board, if it receives a certificate evidencing the approval in a city of the mayor and city council or in a town of the selectmen and planning board and if it finds that the conditions exist which warrant the carrying out of the project and that in its opinion the cost of the project will be practicable, and that the construction and use of the project will not be in contravention of any zoning, subdivision, health or building ordinances or by-laws or rules and regulations of the city or town, or of any municipal board, in effect in the location of the proposed project, or of the standards fixed by the board under section four, shall issue a certificate that it approves the project and consents to the formation of a corporation to carry it out. The agreement of association shall not be presented to the state secretary for filing, nor shall he file it, unless it is accompanied by such certificate. If the housing board disapproves the project it shall state its objections in writing and may suggest changes in the project, or in the plans therefor, which, if adopted, would meet its objections. If the applicant determines to proceed in accordance with the changes suggested, the applicant shall amend the application accordingly and resubmit the application as amended to the housing board for its approval. The housing board may approve or disapprove such application as amended unless in its opinion the proposed change is a fundamental one. In such case the housing board shall transmit the application as amended to the mayor of the city or the selectmen of the town in which the project is to be located, and the provisions of this section in respect to an original application shall be applicable thereto.
Whenever the housing board finds that the construction or use of a proposed project would be in contravention of any zoning, subdivision, health or building ordinances or by-laws or rules and regulations of the city or town, or of any municipal board, in effect in the location of the proposed project, and the application filed under section five proposes any waiver, variance or amendment of such ordinances, by-laws, rules or regulations, which if granted or effected would make the proposed project in conformity therewith, the housing board may issue a certificate that it consents to the formation of the corporation subject to such conditions as may be set forth in such certificate with respect to the obtaining of such waiver, variance or amendment. Whenever any such conditional certificate shall be issued by the housing board, the agreement of association may be presented to the state secretary for filing, and he shall file it, and the corporation shall then be for all purposes a corporation organized under this chapter; provided, however, that the corporation shall not enter upon the construction of a project or portion thereof until the housing board shall have issued a certificate to the effect that the corporation has complied with all of the conditions set forth in such conditional certificate which relate to the project, or the portion thereof proposed to be placed under construction.
Any person aggrieved by any decision made pursuant to this section or the lack thereof may appeal by filing a complaint in superior court for the county in which the project is proposed in accordance with the procedure set forth in section six C.