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Chapter 61 Information
Selling Out of Chapter 61A?
Procedure for Chapter 61, 61A, 61B Right of First Refusal
Are you selling property that is classified under Chapter 61, 61A, or 61B? Are you changing your land use out of these exempted categories? Here's what you need to know:
The Town of Dighton has the first right of refusal to purchase any properties being sold that are withdrawing their tax exemptions under Chapter 61, 61A, or 61B. Chapter 61 refers to land being forested, i.e. growing Christmas trees, timber, or wood. Chapter 61A refers to land classified under agricultural use while Chapter 61B refers to land classified as recreational use. All Chapters require notice to various boards with the Board of Selectmen taking a final vote on whether to purchase the property.
Requirements for Notice by the Property Owner
The landowner must provide a letter of intent to sell or convert a parcel for commercial, industrial, or residential use. This notice must be sent by certified mail or hand-delivered to the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Board of Assessors, and Conservation Commission, and to the State Forester. This notice includes the following:
- A statement of intent to sell or convert
- A statement of the proposed use of the land
- The location and acreage of the land as shown on the assessor's map (10 acres is the threshold for Chapter 61; 5 acres is the threshold for Chapters 61A and 61B
- The name, address, and telephone of the landowner
- In the case of an intent to sell, a certified copy of an executed purchase and sale agreement specifying the purchase price and all terms and conditions of the proposed sale, which is limited only to the property classified under the Chapter (a home would not be included, for example), and must be a bona fide offer, meaning a good faith offer not dependent upon potential changes or conditions
- Any additional agreements or a statement of any additional consideration for any contiguous land under the same ownership, and not classified under the Chapter, but sold or to be sold contemporaneously with the proposed sale
- In the case of an intent to convert the land to another use, the landowner must also notify the town of the landowner's attorney, if any.
The requirements for notice constitute proper and complete notice to the Town.
Upon Receiving a Proper and Complete Notice, the Town Is Bound to the Following:
- The Town must act to exercise its option to purchase the property within 120 days from receiving the notice.
- If the Town opts to purchase the property, it has 90 days to do so.
- If the Town fails to act within 120 days, it constitutes a defacto decision to not exercise the right of first refusal.
For more information, visit the Massachusetts General Laws or see "Chapter 61 Information" on the sidebar.
Town Procedure for First Right of Refusal
Upon receipt of the proper and complete notice, the Board of Selectmen will ensure that the Planning Board, Board of Assessors, and Conservation Commission are all in receipt of the same. The Planning Board, Board of Assessors, and Conservation Commission will each hold a meeting, duly posted under the confines of the Open Meeting Law, to vote on whether they recommend, or not, that the Board of Selectmen exercise its Right of First Refusal on the land in question. These boards shall forward their recommendations in writing to the Board of Selectmen, and, should they fail to provide a recommendation it will be assumed that their recommendation is no. The Board of Selectmen will hold a meeting, duly posted under the confines of the Open Meeting Law, to review said recommendations and take a vote on whether to proceed with acquiring the land. The Town has 120 days to complete this step.
Should the Board's vote be to not exercise the Town's right, the Board of Selectmen will sign a letter to that effect, with their signatures notarized. The Chapter land will not be released until rollback taxes are paid to the Town.
Should the Board's vote be to acquire the land, the Town has 90 days to hold a Town Meeting for authorization to purchase the property and to finalize the said purchase. The Board of Selectmen shall, prior to that Town Meeting, appraise the value of the land in preparation for such authorization. Upon Town Meeting vote, if favorable, the Board of Selectmen shall make a bona fide offer to purchase at full and fair market value.