Chapter 61B - Recreational Land

The recreation land classification program is designed to encourage the preservation of the Commonwealth’s open space and promote recreational land use. It offers significant property tax benefits to owners willing to make a use for outdoor activities. In exchange for these benefits, the town is given the right to recover some of the tax benefits afforded the owner when the land is removed from classification. The town is also given an option to purchase the property if the land is sold or used for any purpose other than to maintain open space or recreational use.

Qualifications
Property must be at least five contiguous acres under the same ownership in order to qualify for and retain classification. The land must fall into one of the following categories to qualify:

  • Must be maintained in a substantially natural, wild or open condition or must be maintained in a landscaped condition permitting the preservation of wildlife and natural resources. It does not have to be open to the public, but can be held as private, undeveloped, open space.
  • Must be used for certain recreational purposes and must be open to the public or members of a non-profit organization. Recreational purposes include land used primarily for outdoor activities, so long as they do not materially interfere with the environmental benefits of the land such as hiking, camping, nature study/observation, boating, golfing, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, skiing, swimming, picnicking, private non-commercial flying, hang gliding, archery and target shooting.

Application
The property owner must submit a written application to the Board of Assessors by October 1 of the year before the start of the fiscal year for which taxation as classified land is sought. The owner must file a separate application by October 1 each year for classification of the land to continue into the next fiscal year. The land cannot be classified as recreational for a fiscal year if the owner does not comply with all application deadlines and procedures.

Annual Taxation
Under Chapter 61B, the owner still pays annual property tax. However, the tax is based on the commercial rate applied to the value in land for recreational purposes, rather than its fair market value. The value of the land for recreational purposes is determined annually by the assessors not to exceed twenty-five percent of the fair market value of the land.