AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE TOWN OF HOPKINTON TO ESTABLISH AN OPEN SPACE PRESERVATION FUND.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. The town of Hopkinton, hereinafter called the town, may establish an open space preservation commission, hereinafter called the commission. The commission shall consist of five members, including one member from the board of selectmen, one member from the planning board and one member from the conservation commission, all of whom shall be residents of the town, and each of whom shall be appointed by the board of selectmen. Each commission member's term of office shall be five years, provided that the initial members shall be appointed for terms of five, four, three, two and one year, respectively. The board of selectmen shall appoint one member to the commission upon expiration of the term of each member. The town planner and the executive secretary shall serve as ex officio members of the commission. After the initial appointment of the members of the commission, any vacancy occurring in the commission from any cause may be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by the board of selectmen not less than seven days following notice of its intent to fill such vacancy. The commission shall elect a chairman and a vice chairman from among its regular members and shall elect a secretary who need not be a member of the commission. After holding a public hearing and requesting recommendations from town boards and committees, the commission shall adopt policies, rules and regulations for conducting its affairs and for carrying out its responsibilities under this act.
SECTION 2. Any member of the commission may, after a public hearing before the board of selectmen, if requested, be removed for cause by the board of selectmen.
SECTION 3. The commission shall study undeveloped and underdeveloped land areas within the town and shall establish a priority list of land areas or parcels that the commission deems appropriate for the town to purchase as open space or to dispose of for the same or other purposes and uses. The commission shall undertake such studies and research as it deems appropriate and prepare such documents and records as are necessary to establish such a priority list. The commission shall use the Hopkinton open space and master plans, if any, as guidance and shall also adopt a management plan for managing each of its interests in land.
SECTION 4. Except for conservation land owned by the Hopkinton conservation commission, the commission shall study all lands owned by the town, including its boards, commissions, agencies and departments, and lands in which the town has a restricted interest, including but not limited to, tax title parcels and land of low value, and from time to time identify such lands that may no longer be necessary or appropriate for the town to retain for public purposes. In conjunction with other town boards, commissions, agencies and departments as necessary, the commission shall establish criteria and standards for identifying parcels or land areas that may be disposed of by the town, through transfer, sale, lease or otherwise, and establish a priority list of properties to be disposed of. The commission shall periodically distribute its priority list of disposable or surplus properties to the authorities with jurisdiction over such parcels or land areas, and recommend that disposition procedures provided under applicable General Laws or this act be undertaken by such authorities.
SECTION 5. The town may transfer parcels or land areas owned by the town or any of its boards, commissions, agencies or departments, except for conservation land owned by the Hopkinton conservation commission, to the commission upon a two-thirds vote by town meeting.
SECTION 6. The commission may receive and accept gifts, bequests, grants, transfers or appropriations of funds, monies, securities, or other things of value, from the federal government, a charitable foundation, a private corporation, an individual, the commonwealth, a county or municipality or an agency thereof. The assets acquired or received by the commission shall be placed in a special fund hereinafter referred to as the Open Space Preservation Fund, hereinafter called the fund. The fund shall be set up as a revolving fund to be funded as set forth herein and to be utilized for the purposes set forth herein. The commission may expend any portion or all of the fund for the purpose of acquiring open space and undeveloped land in the town, upon the prior approval of the planning board, the board of selectmen and the town meeting of the town. The town shall make no appropriations from the fund without the recommendation of the commission for such expenditure. All amounts received by the commission shall be deposited with the treasurer of the town and held as a separate account and may be expended in the manner as aforesaid. The treasurer shall invest and reinvest the assets of the fund and any interest on the fund shall remain with and become a part of the fund and may be expended as part of the fund in the manner as aforesaid.
SECTION 7. The commission may negotiate for and to enter into agreements with individuals and entities for the purchase or acquisition by gift, bequest or otherwise of such open space or undeveloped land as it deems appropriate. The commission shall comply with the requirements of chapter 30B of the General Laws for the acquisition of an interest in real property. Subject to the provisions of section 6, the commission may acquire land or interests in land in fee simple, or in such other manner including easements, leasehold interests, development rights, imposition of conservation or other restrictions, or such other interests as the commission deems appropriate. The terms "open space" and "undeveloped land" shall for purposes hereof be deemed to include land upon which is situated a building or buildings or structure or structures, if, in the judgment of the commission, the acquisition of such land would further the purposes of this act. The commission may recommend that the town authorize the borrowing of monies, which authorization must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the town meeting, for the purposes herein set forth.
SECTION 8. Subject to prior approval by the planning board and board of selectmen and a two-thirds vote of town meeting, the commission may dispose of its interest in whole or in part in land over which it has jurisdiction, through transfer, sale, lease, or otherwise pursuant to the procedures set forth in section 16 of chapter 30B of the General Laws. The proceeds of any such disposition shall be deposited in the open space preservation fund in the manner provided under section 6.
SECTION 9. Subject to the provisions herein set forth, the commission may apply for, accept and expend any and all grants, aid or loans which may be available for the purpose of acquiring open space. The commission may enter into such contracts or agreements with any entity, including governmental boards and agencies, for the purpose of obtaining any loan, grant or any federal or state aid available for the purposes hereof. The commission may join or collaborate or participate with any governmental or private not for profit organization whose mission is to own or manage and maintain lands devoted to open space or preservation and may contract with or delegate to such entities to perform administrative functions of the commission.
SECTION 10. Each year the commission shall undertake reasonable and appropriate efforts to obtain monies and other assets, through appropriations from the town meeting of the town of Hopkinton or otherwise, to establish, maintain, preserve, and increase the fund for the purpose of having sufficient resources to acquire land or interests in land for the purposes set forth in this act. The commission shall not request appropriation of money from town meeting to the fund at any time that the amount of money and other assets in the fund, exclusive of interest which has accrued on the fund, exceeds in the aggregate the sum of $5,000,000.
SECTION 11. As a means of providing available assets for the fund, all monies received by the town through the following means shall be paid over to and become a part of the fund for the purposes set forth in this act:
(a) Rollback taxes for the sale of land which has been classified under chapter 61, 61A or 61B of the General Laws.
(b) All monies received from the sale of foreclosed tax titles pursuant to section 77B of chapter 60 of the General Laws, the assignment of tax titles pursuant to section 52 of said chapter 60 and from the sale of land of low value pursuant to sections 79 to 80B, inclusive, of said chapter 60including monies received from the sale of such properties where the procedures for disposition are modified pursuant to this act.
(c) All monies received by the town as a result of violations of the open space and landscape preservation development by-law of the town.
SECTION 12. When disposing of land of low value, the town through its treasurer or other authorized official may modify the disposition procedures under sections 79 to 80B, inclusive, of chapter 60 of the General Laws by offering such land first to owners of contiguous properties, hereinafter referred to as immediate abutters. In so doing, at least 14 days bef sale, the town shall notify all parties known to have an interest in the land and immediate abutters, by certified mail, by publication of a legal announcement in a newspaper of local circulation and by posting of a notice at the town hall, that it intends to sell at public auction one or more parcels of land of low value, and that preference shall be given first to immediate abutters. If no acceptable bids are received at the date and time of the public auction, the town may thereafter hold an adjourned sale and offer such land of low value to any qualified bidder through the same notification and public auction procedures. An acceptable bid shall be an amount deemed sufficient by the town but in no event shall be less than the amount owed to the town to redeem the title. A vote of the town at an annual or special town meeting taken before the passage of this act appropriating money into the Open Space Preservation Fund, established pursuant to section 6, is hereby ratified, validated and confirmed.
SECTION 13. The commission shall conduct its meetings in accordance with the open meeting law, shall keep accurate records of its meetings and actions and shall file an annual report which shall be printed in the annual town report. The commission may employ such consultants and other professionals, and may make contracts for materials and services as it deems necessary and appropriate insofar as the same are not supplied by other town departments.
SECTION 14. This act shall take effect upon its passage.