An Act Relative to a Municipality’s Right of First Refusal of Agricultural Land

Summary

Chapter 61A §14 of the General Laws pertains to the notification process in which a city or town has the option to exercise, waive or assign its right of first refusal of agricultural land which the property owner seeks to sell or use for non-agricultural purposes.  The existing timelines under Chapter 61A §14, however, are not conducive a municipality’s ability to effectively conduct the required due diligence of a potential land acquisition; particularly communities that have a town meeting form of government. This bill seeks to extend the existing time period from 120 to 180 days to provide municipalities with a more appropriate timeframe to make a determination about whether to exercise its right of first refusal.  In addition, the bill would extend the existing 90-day period for a municipality to fulfill the purchase and sale contract to 120 days which would provide communities with more time to identify and secure alternate funding sources to offset the purchase price of the land. The bill also seeks to clarify the existing law by ensuring that communities are not required to purchase land that is not classified under Chapter 61A, even if the non-61A property is included within the same purchase and sale agreement provided to the municipality by the landowner. Lastly, the bill would establish a 30-day timeline in which the seller may accept the purchase and sale agreement since the existing law does not require the landowner to respond to a purchase and sale agreement provided by a city or town.  As such, a municipality may not know if the seller accepts the agreement for months, or possibly years, which may have major financial and budgetary implications that are not immediately foreseeable.