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  • Acts
  • 2000
  • Chapter 267 AN ACT RELATIVE TO COMMUNITY PRESERVATION.

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 General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 44A the following chapter:- `tuc CHAPTER 44B. `tuc COMMUNITY PRESERVATION.

Section 1. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act.

Section 2. As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning, have the following meanings:-

"Acquire", obtain by gift, purchase, devise, grant, rental, rental purchase, lease or otherwise. "Acquire" shall not include a taking by eminent domain, except as provided in this chapter.

"Annual income", a family's or person's gross annual income less such reasonable allowances for dependents, other than a spouse, and for medical expenses as the housing authority or, in the event that there is no housing authority, the department of housing and community development, determines.

"Community housing", low and moderate income housing for individuals and families, including low or moderate income senior housing.

"Community preservation", the acquisition, creation and preservation of open space, the acquisition, creation and preservation of historic structures and landscapes and the creation and preservation of community housing.

"Community preservation committee", the committee established by the legislative body of a city or town to make recommendations for community preservation, as provided in section 5.

"Community Preservation Fund", the municipal fund established under section 7.

"CP", community preservation.

"Historic structures and landscapes", a building, structure, vessel or real property that is listed or eligible for listing on the state register of historic places or has been determined by the local historic preservation commission to be significant in the history, archeology, architecture or culture of a city or town.

"Legislative body", the agency of municipal government which is empowered to enact ordinances or by-laws, adopt an annual budget and other spending authorizations, loan orders, bond authorizations and other financial matters and whether styled as a city council, board of aldermen, town council, town meeting or by any other title.

"Low income housing", housing for those persons and families whose annual income is less than 80 per cent of the areawide median income. The areawide median income shall be the areawide median income as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Low or moderate income senior housing", housing for those persons having reached the age of 60 or over who would qualify for low or moderate income housing.

"Maintenance", the upkeep of real or personal property.

"Moderate income housing", housing for those persons and families whose annual income is less than 100 per cent of the areawide median income. The areawide median income shall be the areawide median income as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Open space", shall include, but not be limited to, land to protect existing and future well fields, aquifers and recharge areas, watershed land, agricultural land, grasslands, fields, forest land, fresh and salt water marshes and other wetlands, ocean, river, stream, lake and pond frontage, beaches, dunes and other coastal lands, lands to protect scenic vistas, land for wildlife or nature preserve and land for recreational use.

"Preservation", protection of personal or real property from injury, harm or destruction, but not including maintenance.

"Real property", land, buildings, appurtenant structures and fixtures attached to buildings or land, including, where applicable, real property interests.

"Real property interest", a present or future legal or equitable interest in or to real property, including easements and restrictions, and any beneficial interest therein, including the interest of a beneficiary in a trust which holds a legal or equitable interest in real property, but shall not include an interest which is limited to the following: an estate at will or at sufferance and any estate for years having a term of less than 30 years; the reversionary right, condition or right of entry for condition broken; the interest of a mortgagee or other secured party in a mortgage or security agreement.

"Recreational use", active or passive recreational use including, but not limited to, the use of land for community gardens, trails, and noncommercial youth and adult sports, and the use of land as a park, playground or athletic field. "Recreational use" shall not include horse or dog racing or the use of land for a stadium, gymnasium or similar structure.

Section 3. (a) Sections 3 to 7, inclusive, shall take effect in any city or town upon the approval by the legislative body and their acceptance by the voters of a ballot question as set forth in this section.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 59 or any other general or special law to the contrary, the legislative body may vote to accept sections 3 to 7, inclusive, by approving a surcharge on real property of not more than 3 per cent of the real estate tax levy against real property, as determined annually by the board of assessors. The amount of the surcharge shall not be included in a calculation of total taxes assessed for purposes of section 21C of said chapter 59.

(c) All exemptions and abatements of real property authorized by said chapter 59 or any other law for which a taxpayer qualifies as eligible shall not be affected by this chapter. A taxpayer receiving an exemption of real property authorized by said chapter 59 or any other law shall be exempt from any surcharge on real property established under this section. The surcharge to be paid by a taxpayer receiving an abatement of real property authorized by said chapter 59 or any other law shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of such abatement.

(d) Any amount of the surcharge not paid by the due date shall bear interest at the rate per annum provided in section 57 of said chapter 59.

(e) The legislative body may also vote to accept one or more of the following exemptions:

(1) for property owned and occupied as a domicile by a person who would qualify for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing in the city or town;

(2) for class three, commercial, and class four, industrial, properties as defined in section 2A of said chapter 59, in cities or towns with classified tax rates; or

(3) for $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property.

(f) Upon approval by the legislative body, the actions of the body shall be submitted for acceptance to the voters of a city or town at the next regular municipal or state election. The city or town clerk or the state secretary shall place it on the ballot in the form of the following question:

"Shall this (city or town) accept sections 3 to 7, inclusive of chapter 44B of the General Laws, as approved by its legislative body, a summary of which appears below?"

(Set forth here a fair, concise summary and purpose of the law to be acted upon, as determined by the city solicitor or town counsel, including in said summary the percentage of the surcharge to be imposed.)

If a majority of the voters voting on said question vote in the affirmative, then its provisions shall take effect in the city or town, but not otherwise.

(g) The final date for notifying or filing a petition with the city or town clerk or the state secretary to place such a question on the ballot shall be 35 days before the city or town election or 60 days before the state election.

(h) If the legislative body does not vote to accept sections 3 to 7, inclusive, at least 90 days before a regular city or town election or 120 days before a state election, then a question seeking said acceptance through approval of a particular surcharge rate with exemption or exemptions, may be so placed on the ballot when a petition signed by at least 5 per cent of the registered voters of the city or town requesting such action is filed with the registrars, who shall have seven days after receipt of such petition to certify its signatures. Upon certification of the signatures, the city or town clerk or the state secretary shall cause the question to be placed on the ballot at the next regular city or town election held more than 35 days after such certification or at the next regular state election held more than 60 days after such certification.

Section 4. (a) Upon acceptance of sections 3 to 7, inclusive, and upon the assessors' warrant to the tax collector, the accepted surcharge shall be imposed.

(b) After receipt of the warrant, the tax collector shall collect the surcharge in the amount and according to the computation specified in the warrant and shall pay the amounts so collected, quarterly or semi-annually, according to the schedule for collection of property taxes for the tax on real property, to the city's or town's treasurer. The tax collector shall cause appropriate books and accounts to be kept with respect to such surcharge, which shall be subject to public examination upon reasonable request from time to time.

(c) The remedies provided by chapter 60 for the collection of taxes upon real estate shall apply to the surcharge on real property pursuant to this chapter.

Section 5. (a) A city or town that accepts sections 3 to 7, inclusive, shall establish by ordinance or by-law a community preservation committee. The committee shall consist of not less than five nor more than nine members. The ordinance or by-law shall determine the composition of the committee, the length of its term and the method of selecting its members, whether by election or appointment or by a combination thereof. The committee shall include, but not be limited to, one member of the conservation commission established under section 8C of chapter 40 as designated by the commission, one member of the historical commission established under section 8D of said chapter 40 as designated by the commission, one member of the planning board established under section 81A of chapter 41 as designated by the board, one member of the board of park commissioners established under section 2 of chapter 45 as designated by the board and one member of the housing authority established under section 3 of chapter 121B as designated by the authority, or persons, as determined by the ordinance or by-law, acting in the capacity of or performing like duties of the commissions, board or authority if they have not been established in the city or town. If there are no persons acting in the capacity of or performing like duties of any such commission, board or authority, the ordinance or by-law shall designate those persons.

(b)(1) The community preservation committee shall study the needs, possibilities and resources of the city or town regarding community preservation. The committee shall consult with existing municipal boards, including the conservation commission, the historical commission, the planning board, the board of park commissioners and the housing authority, or persons acting in those capacities or performing like duties, in conducting such studies. As part of its study, the committee shall hold one or more public informational hearings on the needs, possibilities and resources of the city or town regarding community preservation possibilities and resources, notice of which shall be posted publicly and published for each of two weeks preceding a hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town.

(2) The community preservation committee shall make recommendations to the legislative body for the acquisition, creation and preservation of open space, for the acquisition and preservation of historic resources, for the acquisition, creation and preservation of land for recreational use, for the creation, preservation and support of community housing and for rehabilitation or restoration of such open space, historic resources, land for recreational use and community housing that is acquired or created as provided in this section. With respect to community housing, the community preservation committee shall recommend, wherever possible, the reuse of existing buildings or construction of new buildings on previously developed sites.

(3) The community preservation committee may include in its recommendation to the legislative body a recommendation to set aside for later spending funds for specific purposes that are consistent with community preservation but for which sufficient revenues are not then available in the Community Preservation Fund to accomplish that specific purpose or to set aside for later spending funds for general purposes that are consistent with community preservation.

(c) The community preservation committee shall not meet or conduct business without the presence of a quorum. A majority of the members of the community preservation committee shall constitute a quorum. The community preservation committee shall approve its actions by majority vote. Recommendations to the legislative body shall include their anticipated costs.

(d) After receiving such recommendations from the community preservation committee, the legislative body shall then take such action and approve such appropriations from the Community Preservation Fund as set forth in section 8, and such additional appropriations as it deems appropriate to carry out the recommendations of the community preservation committee.

(e) For the purposes of community preservation and upon the recommendation of the community preservation committee, a city or town may take by eminent domain under chapter 79, the fee or any lesser interest in real property or waters located in such city or town if such taking has first been approved by a two-thirds vote of the legislative body. Upon a like recommendation and vote, a city or town may expend monies in the Community Preservation Fund, if any, for the purpose of paying, in whole or in part, any damages for which a city or town may be liable by reason of a taking for the purposes of community preservation.

Section 6. In every fiscal year and upon the recommendation of the community preservation committee, the legislative body shall spend, or set aside for later spending, not less than 10 per cent of the annual revenues in the Community Preservation Fund for open space, but not including land for recreational use, not less than 10 per cent of the annual revenues for historic resources and not less than 10 per cent of the annual revenues for community housing. In each fiscal year, the legislative body shall make such appropriations from the Community Preservation Fund as it deems necessary for the administrative and operating expenses of the community preservation committee, but the appropriations shall not exceed 5 per cent of the annual revenues in the Community Preservation Fund. Funds that are set aside shall be held in the Community Preservation Fund and spent in that year or later years, but funds set aside for a specific purpose shall be spent only for the specific purpose. Any funds set aside may be expended in any city or town in the commonwealth. The community preservation funds shall not replace existing operating funds, only augment them.

Section 7. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 53 of chapter 44 or any other general or special law to the contrary, a city or town that accepts sections 3 to 7, inclusive, shall establish a separate account to be known as the Community Preservation Fund of which the municipal treasurer shall be the custodian. The authority to approve expenditures from the fund shall be limited to the legislative body and the municipal treasurer shall pay such expenses in accordance with chapter 41.

The following monies shall be deposited in the fund: (a) all funds collected from the real property surcharge or bond proceeds in anticipation of revenue pursuant to sections 4 and 11; (b) all funds received from the commonwealth or any other source for such purposes; and (c) proceeds from the disposal of real property acquired with funds from the Community Preservation Fund. The treasurer may deposit or invest the proceeds of the fund in savings banks, trust companies incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth, banking companies incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth which are members of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or national banks, or may invest the proceeds in paid up shares and accounts of and in co-operative banks or in shares of savings and loan associations or in shares of federal savings and loan associations doing business in the commonwealth or in the manner authorized by section 54 of chapter 44, and any income therefrom shall be credited to the fund. The expenditure of revenues from the fund shall be limited to implementing the recommendations of the community preservation committee and providing administrative and operating expenses to the committee.

Section 8. (a) The fees of the registers of deeds, except as otherwise provided, to be paid when the instrument is left for recording, filing or deposit shall be subject to a surcharge of $20. The fees for so recording, filing or depositing a municipal lien certificate shall be subject to a surcharge of $10. The surcharges shall be imposed for the purposes of community preservation. No surcharge shall apply to a declaration of homestead under chapter 188. No surcharge shall apply to the fees charged for additional pages, photostatic copies, abstract cards, additional square feet for the filing and recording of plans or for additional or required marginal references.

(b) The fees of the assistant recorder, except as otherwise provided, to be paid when the instrument is left for registering, filing or entering with respect to registered land shall be subject to a surcharge of $20. The fees for so registering, filing or entering a municipal lien certificate shall be subject to a surcharge of $10. The surcharges shall be imposed for the purposes of community preservation. No surcharge shall apply to a declaration of homestead of chapter 188. No surcharge shall apply to the fees charged for additional lots shown on plans, for indexing instruments recorded while a petition for registering is pending, for additional certificates of sewer assessments, for old age assistance liens, for duplicates and for photocopies.

(c) All surcharges on fees collected pursuant to this section shall be forwarded to the Massachusetts Community Preservation Trust Fund, established in section 9.

Section 9. (a) There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund, to be known as the Massachusetts Community Preservation Trust Fund, for the benefit of cities and towns that have accepted sections 3 to 7, inclusive, and pursuant to said sections 3 to 7, inclusive, have imposed a surcharge on their real property tax levy, subject to any exemptions adopted by a municipality. The fund shall consist of all revenues received by the commonwealth: (1) under the provisions of section 8; (2) from public and private sources as gifts, grants and donations to further community preservation programs; (3) from damages, penalties, costs or interest received on account of litigation or settlement thereof for a violation of section 15; or (4) all other monies credited to or transferred to from any other fund or source pursuant to law.

(b) The state treasurer shall deposit the fund in accordance with the provisions of section 10 in such manner as will secure the highest interest rate available consistent with the safety of the fund and with the requirement that all amounts on deposit be available for withdrawal without penalty for such withdrawal at any time. All interest accrued and earnings shall be deposited into the fund. The fund shall be expended solely for the administration and implementation of this chapter. Any unexpended balances shall be redeposited for future use consistent with the provisions of this chapter.

(c) The state treasurer shall make all disbursements and expenditures from the fund without further appropriation, as directed by the commissioner of revenue in accordance with said section 10. The department of revenue shall report by source all amounts credited to said fund and all expenditures from said fund. The commissioner of revenue shall assign personnel of the department as it may need to administer and manage the fund disbursements and any expense incurred by the department shall be deemed an operating and administrative expense of the program. The operating and administrative expenses shall not exceed 5 per cent of the annual total revenue received under the provisions of said section 10.

Section 10. (a) The commissioner of revenue shall annually on October 15 disburse monies from the fund established in section 10 to cities and towns that have accepted sections 3 to 7, inclusive, and notified the commissioner of their acceptance. The community shall notify the commissioner of the date and terms on which the voters accepted said sections 3 to 7, inclusive. The municipal tax collecting authority shall certify to the commissioner the amount the municipality has raised through June 30 by imposing a surcharge on its real property levy and shall certify the percentage of the surcharge applied.

(b) The commissioner shall multiply the amount in the fund by 80 per cent. This amount distributed in the first round distribution shall be known as the match distribution. The first round total shall be distributed to each city or town accepting said sections 3 to 7, inclusive, in an amount not less than 5 per cent but not greater than 100 per cent of the total amount raised by the additional surcharge on real property by each city or town. The percentage shall be the same for each city and town and shall be determined by the commissioner annually in a manner that distributes the maximum amount available to each participating city or town.

(c) The commissioner shall further divide the remaining 20 per cent of the fund in a second round distribution, known as the equity distribution. The commissioner shall determine the equity distribution in several steps. The first step shall be to divide the remaining 20 per cent of the fund by the number of cities and towns that have accepted said sections 3 to 7, inclusive. This dividend shall be known as the base figure for equity distribution. This base figure shall be determined solely for purposes of performing the calculation for equity distribution and shall not be added to the amount received by a participant.

(d) Each city and town in the commonwealth shall be assigned a community preservation rank for purposes of the equity distribution. The commissioner shall determine each community's rank by first determining the municipality's equalized property valuation per capita ranking, ranking municipalities from highest to lowest valuation. The commissioner shall also determine the population of each municipality and rank each from largest to smallest in population. The commissioner shall add each equalized property valuation rank and population rank, and divide the sum by two. The dividend is the community preservation raw score for that municipality.

(e) The commissioner shall then order each municipality by CP raw score, from the lowest raw score to the highest raw score. This order shall be the CP rank for each municipality. If more than one municipality has the same CP raw score, the municipality with the higher equalized valuation rank shall receive the higher CP rank.

(f) After determining the CP rank for each municipality in the commonwealth, the commissioner shall divide all municipalities into deciles according to their CP ranking, with approximately the same number of municipalities in each decile, and with the municipalities with the highest CP rank shall be placed in the lowest decile category, starting with decile 10. Percentages shall be assigned to each decile as follows:- `tcol=3,T;c1=5,25,tf;c2=30,35,tf;c3=50,15,tf `tc1 decile 1 `tc2 140 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 2 `tc2 130 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 3 `tc2 120 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 4 `tc2 110 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 5 `tc2 100 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 6 `tc2 90 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 7 `tc2 80 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 8 `tc2 70 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 9 `tc2 60 per cent of the base figure. `tc1 decile 10 `tc2 50 per cent of the base figure. `tcol;end

After assigning each municipality to a decile according to their CP rank, the commissioner shall multiply the percentage assigned to that decile by the base figure to determine the second round equity distribution for each participant.

(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the total state contribution for each city or town shall not exceed the amount raised by the municipality's surcharge on its real property levy.

(g) When there are monies remaining in the trust fund after the first and second round distributions, and any necessary administrative expenses have been paid in accordance with section 6, the commissioner may conduct a third round surplus distribution. Any remaining surplus in the fund may be distributed by dividing the amount of the surplus by the number of cities and towns that have accepted this chapter. The resulting dividend shall be the surplus base figure. The commissioner shall then use the decile categories and percentages as defined in this section to determine a surplus equity distribution for each participant.

(h) The commissioner shall determine each participant's total state grant by adding the amount received in the first round distribution with the amounts received in any later round or rounds of distributions, with the exception of a city or town that has already received a grant equal to 100 per cent of the amount the community raised by its surcharge on its real property levy.

(1) Only those cities and towns that adopt the maximum surcharge allowed by this chapter shall be eligible to receive additional state monies through the equity and surplus distributions.

(2) If less than 10 per cent of the cities and towns in the commonwealth have accepted sections 3 to 7, inclusive, and imposed and collected a surcharge on their real property levy, the commissioner may calculate the state grant with only one round of distributions, or in any other equitable manner.

(j) After distributing the trust fund in accordance with this section, the commissioner may keep any remaining funds in the trust for distribution in the following year.

Section 11. A city or town that accepts sections 3 to 7, inclusive, may issue, from time to time, general obligation bonds or notes in anticipation of revenues to be raised pursuant to section 3, the proceeds of which shall be deposited in the Community Preservation Fund. Bonds or notes so issued may be at such rates of interest as shall be necessary and shall be repaid as soon after such revenues are collected as is expedient. Cities or towns that choose to issue bonds pursuant to this section shall make every effort to limit the administrative costs of issuing such bonds by cooperating among each other using methods including, but not limited to, common issuance of bonds or common retention of bond counsel. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, bonds or notes issued pursuant to this section shall be subject to the applicable provisions of chapter 44. The maturities of each issue of bonds or notes issued under this chapter may be arranged so that for each issue the amounts payable in the several years for principal and interest combined shall be as nearly equal as practicable in the opinion of the officers authorized to issue bonds or notes or, in the alternative, in accordance with a schedule providing for a more rapid amortization of principal.

Section 12. (a) A real property interest that is purchased with monies from the Community Preservation Fund shall be bound by a permanent deed restriction that meets the requirements of chapter 184, limiting the use of the interest to the purpose for which it was acquired. The deed restriction shall run with the land and shall be enforceable by the city or town or the commonwealth. The deed restriction may also run to the benefit of a nonprofit, charitable corporation or foundation selected by the city or town with the right to enforce the restriction.

(b) Real property interests acquired under this chapter shall be owned and managed by the city or town, but the legislative body may delegate management of such property to the conservation commission, the historical commission, the board of park commissioners or the housing authority, or, in the case of interests to acquire sites for future wellhead development by a water district, a water supply district or a fire district. The legislative body may also delegate management of such property to a nonprofit organization created under chapter 180 or chapter 203.

Section 13. The community preservation committee shall keep a full and accurate account of all of its actions, including its recommendations and the action taken on them and records of all appropriations or expenditures made from the Community Preservation Fund. The committee shall also keep records of any real property interests acquired, disposed of or improved by the city or town upon its recommendation, including the names and addresses of the grantors or grantees and the nature of the consideration. The records and accounts shall be public records.

Section 14. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, every city and town may accept sections 3 to 7, inclusive, and may thereupon receive state grants under section 10. A city or town that accepts said sections 3 to 7, inclusive, shall not be precluded from participating in state grant programs.

State grant programs may include local adoption of this chapter among the criteria for selection of grant recipients. Funds in the Community Preservation Fund may be made available and used by the city or town as the local share for state or federal grants upon recommendation of the community preservation committee and the legislative body, as provided for in section 5, if such grants and such local share are used in a manner consistent with the recommendations of the community preservation committee.

Section 15. (a) A person who, without permission, knowingly carries away or steals, mutilates, destroys, damages, causes to be damaged or cuts any tree, shrub, grass or any other portion of real property purchased by a city or town with funds derived from this chapter shall be liable to the city or town in tort for such actions.

(b) Damages, including punitive damages for willful or wanton violation of this chapter or any rule or regulation issued or adopted hereunder, may be recovered in a civil action brought by the city or town or, upon request of the city or town, by the attorney general. The city or town or, upon request of the city or town, the attorney general, may bring an action for injunctive relief against any person violating this chapter or any rule or regulation issued hereunder. The superior court shall have jurisdiction to enjoin violations, to award damages and to grant such further relief as it may deem appropriate.

(c) Any damages, penalties, costs or interest thereon recovered pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Community Preservation Fund of the city or town in which the violation occurred.

Section 16. (a) At any time after imposition of the surcharge, the legislative body may approve and the voters may accept an amendment to the amount and computation of the surcharge, or to the amount of exemption or exemptions, in the same manner and within the limitations set forth in this chapter.

(b) At any time after the expiration of five years after the date on which sections 3 to 7, inclusive, have been accepted in a city or town, said sections may be revoked in the same manner as they were accepted by such city or town, but the surcharge imposed under section 3 shall remain in effect in any such city or town, with respect to unpaid taxes on past transactions and with respect to taxes due on future transactions, until all contractual obligations incurred by the city or town prior to such termination shall have been fully discharged.

Section 17. The commissioner of revenue shall have the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to effect the purposes of this chapter.

SECTION 2. Section 38 of chapter 262 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 1998 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

The fees of the registers of deeds, except as otherwise provided, to be paid when the instrument is left for recording, filing or deposit shall be subject to a surcharge under section 8 of chapter 44B.

SECTION 3. Section 39 of said chapter 262, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

The fees of the assistant recorder, except as otherwise provided, to be paid when the instrument is left for registering, filing or entering with respect to registered land shall be subject to a surcharge under section 8 of chapter 44B.

Approved September 14, 2000.