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General Laws

Section 1. The following words, whenever used in this chapter shall, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context, have the following meanings:—

“Acquisition cost”, the amount prudently required to be expended by an operating agency in acquiring a housing or clearance project.

“Blighted open area”, a predominantly open area which is detrimental to the safety, health, morals, welfare or sound growth of a community because it is unduly costly to develop it soundly through the ordinary operations of private enterprise by reason of the existence of ledge, rock, unsuitable soil, or other physical conditions, or by reason of the necessity for unduly expensive excavation, fill or grading, or by reason of the need for unduly expensive foundations, retaining walls or unduly expensive measures for waterproofing structures or for draining the area or for the prevention of the flooding thereof or for the protection of adjacent properties and the water table therein or for unduly expensive measures incident to building around or over rights-of-way through the area, or for otherwise making the area appropriate for sound development, or by reason of obsolete, inappropriate or otherwise faulty platting or subdivision, deterioration of site improvements or facilities, division of the area by rights-of-way, diversity of ownership of plots, or inadequacy of transportation facilities or other utilities, or by reason of tax and special assessment delinquencies, or because there has been a substantial change in business or economic conditions or practices, or an abandonment or cessation of a previous use or of work on improvements begun but not feasible to complete without the aids provided by this chapter, or by reason of any combination of the foregoing or other condition; or a predominantly open area which by reason of any condition or combination of conditions which are not being remedied by the ordinary operations of private enterprise is of such a character that in essence it is detrimental to the safety, health, morals, welfare or sound growth of the community in which it is situated.

“Clearance project”, the demolition and removal of buildings from any substandard, decadent or blighted open area by an operating agency in accordance with subsection (d) of section twenty-six.

“Community development project”, a work or undertaking on property which is publicly owned or managed for the installation, improvement, construction, alteration, enlargement, repair, rehabilitation, remodeling or reconstruction of buildings or other structures, facades, streets, roadways, thoroughfares, sidewalks, rail spurs, utility distribution system, water and sewer lines, parks, playgrounds, for site preparation and improvements, including demolition of existing structures, relocation assistance and for other like improvements necessary or desirable for the revitalization of the area in which the project is located or the acquisition of property on which any of the foregoing is being or will be undertaken.

“Community renewal program”, any planning work or other undertaking (1) to identify substandard, decadent, and blighted open areas and other deteriorated or deteriorating areas, (2) to measure the nature and degree of blight and blighting factors within such areas, (3) to determine the financial, relocation, and other resources needed and available to restore and renew such areas, (4) to identify potential project areas and, where feasible, types of action proposed within such areas, and (5) scheduling or programming of urban renewal projects and other renewal activities in the community.

“Decadent area”, an area which is detrimental to safety, health, morals, welfare or sound growth of a community because of the existence of buildings which are out of repair, physically deteriorated, unfit for human habitation, or obsolete, or in need of major maintenance or repair, or because much of the real estate in recent years has been sold or taken for nonpayment of taxes or upon foreclosure of mortgages, or because buildings have been torn down and not replaced and under existing conditions it is improbable that the buildings will be replaced, or because of a substantial change in business or economic conditions, or because of inadequate light, air, or open space, or because of excessive land coverage or because diversity of ownership, irregular lot sizes or obsolete street patterns make it improbable that the area will be redeveloped by the ordinary operations of private enterprise, or by reason of any combination of the foregoing conditions.

“Department”, department of housing and community development.

“Development cost”, the cost of construction or acquisition of a housing project, as determined by the department, including the costs of planning, engineering, surveying and studies; of acquisition of real estate, including the buildings thereon, site preparation, construction, reconstruction, alteration and repair; of interest on notes issued to temporarily finance the project; and of all other fees and expenses reasonably necessary and incurred or to be incurred in connection with construction or acquisition of a housing project.

“Elderly persons of low income”, persons having reached the age of sixty or over whose annual income is less than the amount necessary to enable them to maintain decent, safe and sanitary housing.

“Families of low income”, families and persons whose net annual income is less than the amount necessary to enable them to obtain and maintain decent, safe and sanitary housing.

“Federal government”, the United States of America, and any agency or instrumentality corporate or otherwise of the United States of America.

“Federal legislation”, any legislation of the Congress of the United States relating to federal assistance for urban renewal, clearance of substandard, decadent or blighted open areas, city or regional planning, rehabilitation, code enforcement, housing, relocation or any related matters, and any regulations authorized thereunder.

“Handicapped persons of low income”, persons whose annual net income is less than the amount necessary to enable them to maintain decent, safe and sanitary housing and who have been determined, pursuant to regulations issued by the director of housing and community development to have an impairment which is expected to be of long continued and indefinite duration, which substantially impedes the ability to live independently in conventional housing and which is of such a nature that such ability could be improved by more suitable housing conditions. Except as required by federal law, and notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a history of alcohol or substance use shall not constitute a qualifying impairment. Eligibility for protection as a handicapped or disabled person under state or federal anti-discrimination laws does not constitute a guarantee of eligibility for housing as a handicapped person of low income as defined herein. A person who has a handicap as defined in paragraph seventeen of section one of chapter one hundred and fifty-one B shall still meet the definition set out herein in order to be eligible for housing as a handicapped person of low income.

“Housing authority”, a public body politic and corporate created pursuant to section three or corresponding provisions of earlier laws.

“Housing project”, such projects for housing as a housing authority is authorized to undertake under sections twenty-five to thirty-three, inclusive.

“Low rent housing”, decent, safe and sanitary dwellings within the financial reach of families or elderly persons of low income, and developed and administered to promote serviceability, efficiency, economy and stability; together with all necessary appurtenances of such dwellings.

“Low rent housing project”, (1) a clearance project; or (2) any work or undertaking to provide decent, safe and sanitary dwellings, apartments or other living accommodations for families of low income, which work or undertaking may include buildings, land, equipment, facilities, and other real or personal property for necessary, convenient and desirable appurtenances, public or private ways, sewers, water supply, parks, site preparation or improvement, or administrative, community, health, recreational, welfare, or other facilities; or (3) the purchase of, or acquisition, otherwise than by eminent domain, of the right to use, completed dwelling units which have been recently constructed, reconstructed or remodeled (whether condominium units, individual buildings part of a larger development, or a portion of the units in a multifamily development); or (4) any combination of the foregoing. Such a project may include the planning of the buildings and improvements, the acquisition of property, the demolition of existing structures, the construction, reconstruction, alteration and repair of the improvements and other work performed in connection therewith, but construction activity in connection with a project may be confined to the reconstruction, remodeling or repair of existing buildings.

“Mayor”, the city manager of the city in all cities having a Plan D or Plan E charter and the duly elected mayor of the city in all other cities. The mayor is hereby designated as the chief executive of the locality for purposes of any approval or action of such officer required by federal legislation.

“Municipal officers”, in the case of all cities, the city council with the approval of the mayor, and in the case of all towns, the board of selectmen with the approval of the town manager, if any. The municipal officers are hereby designated as the local governing body for purposes of any approval or action of such body required by federal legislation.

“Operating agency”, a housing authority or redevelopment authority.

“Redevelopment authority”, a public body politic and corporate created pursuant to section four or corresponding provisions of earlier laws.

“Relocation payments”, voluntary payments whether or not required by federal legislation made by an operating agency as reimbursement or compensation for the reasonable moving expenses necessarily incurred and any actual, direct loss of property, except good will or profit, suffered by individuals, families, business concerns and nonprofit organizations, resulting from displacement on or after August twelfth, nineteen hundred and sixty-five, if such displacement is reasonably required to carry out an urban renewal plan or because of the acquisition of property by an operating agency.

Such relocation payments shall not include reimbursement or compensation for any expenses or losses for which reimbursement or compensation would be otherwise made, nor shall any person have any right of action for relocation payments, except as provided by federal legislation or chapter seventy-nine A.

“Relocation project”, any work or undertaking for providing decent, safe and sanitary dwellings for persons or families displaced by any urban renewal project or other public improvement by the commonwealth or any city, town or other body politic and corporate of the commonwealth.

“Substandard area”, any area wherein dwellings predominate which, by reason of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangement or design, lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors, are detrimental to safety, health or morals.

“Urban renewal agency”, the agency described in section nine.

“Urban renewal plan”, a detailed plan, as it may exist from time to time, for an urban renewal project, which plan may comply with all requirements from time to time prescribed by federal legislation in order to qualify an urban renewal project for federal financial assistance and which plan shall (1) conform to the general plan for the municipality as a whole and be consistent with any definite local objectives respecting appropriate land uses, improved traffic, public transportation, public utilities, recreational, educational and community facilities and other public improvements; (2) be sufficiently complete to indicate the boundaries of the area, such land acquisition, such demolition, removal, and rehabilitation of structures, and such redevelopment and general public improvements as may be proposed to be carried out within such area, zoning and planning changes, if any, and proposed land uses, maximum densities and building requirements; and (3) indicate or be accompanied by materials indicating the proposed method for relocation of persons and organizations to be displaced by the project and the availability of and means by which there will be provided dwelling units for such persons substantially equal in number to the number of dwelling units to be rendered temporarily or permanently uninhabitable as a result of carrying out the project. In any case where an educational institution or a hospital is located in or near an urban renewal project area, the urban renewal plan for such project, or a development plan prepared by the hospital or educational institution and approved by the urban renewal agency after due notice and public hearing, may include plans for the development of land, buildings and structures adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of the project area acquired or to be acquired and redeveloped or rehabilitated by such educational institution for educational uses or by such hospital for hospital uses. Such plans may comply with all requirements of federal legislation as they may exist from time to time relating to noncash grant-in-aid credits for expenditures of such hospitals or educational institutions. After its approval by the urban renewal agency, as aforesaid, any development plan which is not part of an urban renewal plan shall be approved by the planning board, the municipal officers and the department in the same manner as urban renewal plans, except that no further public hearing shall be required.

“Urban renewal project”, a project to be undertaken in accordance with an urban renewal plan (1) for acquisition by an urban renewal agency of the land and all improvements thereon, if any, within a decadent, substandard or blighted open area covered by an urban renewal plan and for assembly or clearance by such agency of the land so acquired; or a project (2) for the elimination and for the prevention of the development or spread of a substandard, decadent or blighted open area covered by an urban renewal plan by means of rehabilitation or conservation work, which work may include the promulgation and enforcement of building and other codes within such area or the restoration and renewal of any such area or portion thereof, including the preservation, restoration or relocation of historical buildings, by carrying out plans for a program of voluntary repair and rehabilitation of buildings or other improvements or by the acquisition by gift, purchase or eminent domain of land and all improvements thereon, if any, and demolition, removal, or rehabilitation of any such improvements whenever necessary to eliminate unhealthful, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, lessen density, mitigate or eliminate traffic congestion, reduce traffic hazards, eliminate obsolete or other uses detrimental to the public welfare, provide land for needed public facilities or otherwise remove or prevent the spread of blight and deterioration; or a project (3) involving any combination of the foregoing types of project. “Urban renewal project” may also include the provision of financial and other assistance in the relocation of persons and organizations displaced as a result of carrying out a project, the installation, construction or reconstruction of public and private ways, public utilities and services, parks, playgrounds, off street parking lots, traffic or fire control and police communications systems and other like improvements necessary for carrying out the objectives of the urban renewal project, together with such site improvements as are necessary for the preparation of any sites for uses in accordance with the urban renewal plan, and making any land or improvements acquired in the area of the project available for redevelopment or rehabilitation by private enterprise or public charitable agencies, including sale, initial leasing or retention by the urban renewal agency itself for residential, recreational, education, hospital, commercial, industrial, public, charitable or other uses in accordance with the urban renewal plan. “Urban renewal project” may also include the construction by a housing authority of any of the buildings, for residential use, contemplated by the urban renewal plan and the repair, removal or rehabilitation by an operating agency of any of the buildings, structures or other improvements located in the area covered by the urban renewal plan and which, under such plan, are to be repaired, moved or rehabilitated. “Urban renewal project” may also include acquisition by any means other than eminent domain and not involving public expenses of land outside of but adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of an urban renewal project to be developed for hospital or educational uses under the urban renewal plan, whenever such acquisition is for the purpose of making such land subject to the urban renewal plan and the hospital or educational institution involved consents thereto. The term “redevelopment” shall include “development”.

“Urban Revitalization and Development Project”, any urban renewal project undertaken after January first, nineteen hundred and eighty-six for such residential, commercial, or industrial redevelopment projects as the department deems appropriate.

“Veteran”, any person who is a veteran as defined in clause Forty-third of section seven of chapter four. The word “veteran” as used herein shall also include the spouse, surviving spouse, parent or other dependent of such person.

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