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 Rehoboth may adopt a by-law to establish the Rehoboth agricultural and natural resources preservation council consisting of 9 voting members and 1 advisory member. The council shall consist of: 1 member of the agricultural commission appointed by that commission, 1 member of the conservation commission appointed by that commission and 1 member of the planning board appointed by that board, for terms of 3 years; 1 member of the park commission appointed by that commission, 1 member of the board of health appointed by that board and 1 member of the water commission appointed by that commission, for initial terms of 2 years and for 3 years thereafter; 1 member of the board of assessors appointed by that board, 1 member of the Rehoboth land trust appointed by that trust and 1 member of the board of selectmen appointed by that board, for initial terms of 1 year and for 3 years thereafter. There shall be a nonvoting advisory member of the finance committee appointed by that committee, for a term of 3 years. If any of the appointing authorities shall cease to exist, the board of selectmen shall be the appointing authority.
SECTION 2. The council shall identify and purchase land, development rights and conservation restrictions to preserve existing agricultural lands and to use and preserve the natural resources of the town. The council shall foster and promote activities that are in the interest of preserving agricultural land, natural resources and revitalizing the agricultural industry in the town.
The council shall submit any recommended acquisitions or agreements, including the anticipated costs thereof to the board of selectmen for its majority approval before taking further action. Within 30 days of receipt, the board of selectmen shall approve or deny the council’s recommendation with stated reasons. If no action is taken by the board of selectmen after 30 days, the council may act upon its recommendation after holding a public hearing, including notice to all parties concerned, and in conformity with section 23B of chapter 39 of the General Laws.
The council shall enter into agreements, with or without other entities, for the purposes set forth herein which may include the payment of funds through the Rehoboth Agricultural and Natural Resources Preservation Trust Fund to support these preservation activities.
SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the town of Rehoboth may establish and maintain a fund to be known as the Agricultural and Natural Resources Preservation Trust Fund into which all receipts, revenues, appropriations, gifts, grants and funds from all activities of the Rehoboth agricultural and natural resources preservation council shall be deposited. The fund shall be kept separate and apart from all other accounts of the town. The town treasurer shall be the custodian of the fund and shall invest amounts in the fund in accordance with sections 54 and 55 of chapter 44 of the General Laws. Any earnings, income and interest accruing from the fund shall be credited to and become part of the fund. The town may, from time to time, appropriate funds to this account. The town may incur debt pursuant to clause (3) of section 7 of said chapter 44 of the General Laws. The town auditor shall include this account in his annual independent audit.
SECTION 4. The council, with the approval of the board of selectmen, shall have the power of a conservation commission, as set forth in section 8C of chapter 40 of the General Laws, with respect to the acquisition of interests in land and buildings and the expenditure of reasonable administrative funds. In the event that the council and board of selectmen determine that land or interests in land are no longer in use or preserved for agricultural purposes, such land or interests in land may be transferred for conservation purposes as if acquired by a conservation commission under said section 8C of said chapter 40.
SECTION 5. The council shall not meet or conduct business without the presence of a quorum. A majority of the voting members of the council shall constitute a quorum. The council shall approve its actions by a majority vote.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Approved July 25, 2007.