[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Plainville 6-6-2011 ATM by Art. 26. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The provisions of this bylaw and the applicable provisions of MGL c. 80 and c. 83 govern sewer betterment assessments.
When a sewer betterment assessment is imposed with respect to a particular sewer construction project, 100% of the actual cost of the project design and construction, after the deductions described herein are made from such cost, will be assessed against the owner or owners of land in front of which the sewer main in question runs and for the use of which it is installed.
In determining the amount of sewer betterment assessment to be made, there shall be deducted from the actual cost of the project the following:
The remainder of the actual cost of the project will be borne by the Town. The Town's share of the actual cost of the project shall be paid from the sewer use charges established by the Sewer Commissioners.
Sewer betterment assessments shall be made upon owners of land in accordance with a uniform unit method. Under such method, a uniform unit of cost shall be determined by dividing the total cost of the project to be assessed against owners of land by the total number of existing and potential sewer units to be served. Each sewer unit shall be equal to a single-family residence. Potential sewer units shall be calculated on the basis of zoning then in effect and in accordance with the criteria set forth herein. Existing and potential multifamily, commercial and industrial uses shall be converted into sewer units on the basis of residential equivalents. An owner's assessment shall be equal to the number of sewer units assessed to him multiplied by the unit of cost.
Each single-family residence, including any lawful conforming use as such, located on a way where the sewer line is installed shall be assessed one unit of cost. Each potentially buildable lot located on such way shall also be assessed one unit of cost. In determining whether any such lot is buildable, the zoning requirements for the zoning district in which the lot is located shall be applied.
Existing, including any lawful conforming uses, and potential multifamily uses, commercial uses and industrial uses located on a way where the sewer line is installed shall be converted into sewer units on the basis of single-family residential equivalents. In determining the residential equivalents for multifamily uses, the zoning requirements of the zoning district in which the multifamily use is located shall apply. The number of sewer units calculated for multifamily uses shall be calculated on the basis of lot area and not on the basis of the number of family units in the dwelling. In determining the residential equivalents for commercial and industrial uses, the zoning requirements for the single-family residential RB Zoning District shall apply.
A potential lot which meets the applicable zoning requirements but is deemed unbuildable for any other reason shall not be assessed as a sewer unit.
All Town-owned lots which meet the requirements established herein for classification as a sewer unit shall be included in the number of sewer units used in determining the unit of cost.
Land classified as forestland under the provisions of MGL c. 61 is subject to a sewer betterment assessment. Such assessment, however, shall not become due and payable until the time when said land is removed from such classification (MGL c. 61, § 5).
Land classified as agricultural or horticultural under the provisions of MGL c. 61A is subject to a sewer betterment assessment to such pro rata extent as the service or facility financed by such assessment is used for improving the agricultural or horticultural use capability of said land or for the personal benefit of the owner thereof. Any such assessment and interest therein shall, however, upon application of the property owner, be suspended during the time the land is in agricultural or horticultural use and shall become due and payable as of the date when the use of such land is changed (MGL c. 61A, § 8).
Land classified as recreational land under the provisions of MGL c. 61B shall be subject to a sewer betterment assessment to such pro rata extent as the service or facility financed by such assessment is used for improving the recreational use capability of such land or for the personal benefit of the owner thereof. Any such assessment may, however, upon application of the property owner, be suspended during the time the land is a classified recreational use; provided, however, that interest at the rate of 4% shall be paid annually (MGL c. 61B, § 13).
When a need has been identified for a sewer construction project in a specific area of the Town, the Sewer Commissioners shall, subject to appropriation by Town Meeting, prepare a proposal for the design and engineering for such project. Such proposal shall include the layout of the project, an estimate of the completion date of the project, an estimate of the actual cost of the project, and an estimate of the cost per sewer unit to be assessed to property owners. The Sewer Commissioners shall hold a public hearing on the proposal and shall include such information in the notice of the public hearing. When the project is fully designed and ready for the construction process, the Sewer Commissioners will submit the project to the Town Meeting for further appropriation for the construction of the project.
No less than 30 days prior to commencement of construction of the project, the Town shall give written notice of the impending project to each property owner on a way where a sewer line is to be installed. Such notice shall include as a minimum the following:
Description of the property to be assessed:
Notice that a sewer line is scheduled to be installed on the way where the property is located;
An estimate of the completion date of the project;
As the property will be bettered by the installation of the sewer line, a betterment fee will be assessed;
An estimate of the betterment fee to be assessed against the property;
Notice that a municipal lien will be placed on the property on which a sewer betterment fee is assessed, if the fee is not paid within 30 days of the date of the billing of the sewer assessment fee.
No less than 30 days prior to commencement of construction of the project, the Sewer Commissioners shall give written notice to the Collector of Taxes of all properties which are to be assessed a betterment fee. Municipal lien certificates issued thereafter on properties to be so assessed will contain the notation that "this property is scheduled to be assessed a sewer betterment fee, the amount of which is not ascertainable at this time."
The Sewer Commissioners shall, within six months after the completion of the sewer project, adopt an order of assessment for the project. Such order shall designate each property owner being assessed a betterment fee, identify the parcel of land on which the assessment is made, identify the plan of the area where the sewer project was constructed, and state the amount of the betterment assessed to each parcel of land. Such order shall be recorded in the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds within a reasonable period of time after its adoption.
The Sewer Commissioners shall, within a reasonable period of time after the adoption of such order of assessment, deliver a copy thereof to the Board of Assessors, which shall forthwith commit such assessments to the Collector of Taxes for collection. The Collector of Taxes shall send notice of the amount of the assessment to the owner of each parcel of land assessed with an explanation of the options available for payment. Assessments are due and payable within 30 days of the date of the billing unless an apportionment of the payment of the assessment over a maximum period of 20 years is requested. If payment is made within 30 days, no lien shall be placed on the property. Upon payment in full of the assessment, the Town shall furnish the owner with a discharge of the lien for recording in the Registry of Deeds.
The Sewer Commissioners may extend the time for the payment of such assessment upon land which is not built upon until it is built upon or for a fixed time; but interest at the rate of 4% per annum shall be paid annually upon the assessment from the time it was made, and the assessment shall be paid within three months after such land is built upon or at the expiration of such fixed time.
As has been indicated in § 359-3 above, payment of the assessments on classified forestland are suspended during the time the land is so classified (MGL c. 61, § 5). Payment of assessments on classified agricultural or horticultural land, together with the interest thereon, may be suspended upon application by the property owner until the use of the land changes (MGL c. 61A, § 18). Payment of assessments on classified recreational land may, upon application of the property owner, be suspended until the land use changes. The owner, however, must pay the interest annually (MGL c. 61B, § 13).
In accordance with the provisions of MGL c. 80, § 13B, the Sewer Commissioners shall, upon the application of the owner of property assessed a sewer betterment fee, if such owner is eligible for an exemption under MGL c. 59, § 5, clause 41A, enter into a deferral and recovery agreement with such owner on behalf of the Town. Such agreement shall provide for the deferral and subsequent payment of the betterment assessment on the terms and conditions set forth in said § 13B. Application to enter into such an agreement must be made within six months after the Collector of Taxes has sent out the notice of such assessment.
The owner of any real estate upon which a sewer betterment has been assessed may, within six months after notice of such assessment has been sent out by the Collector of Taxes, file with the Sewer Commissioners a petition for an abatement of such assessment. The Sewer Commissioners shall act on such petition within four months of the date of its filing. If they do not act within that time, the petition is deemed to be denied. The Sewer Commissioners shall give written notice to the petitioner of their decision within 10 days after it has been made.
Any person who is aggrieved by the refusal of the Sewer Commissioners to abate a sewer assessment in whole or in part has two alternative rights of appeal. He may, under MGL c. 80, § 7, file an appeal with the Superior Court within 30 days after notice of the Sewer Commissioners' decision, or he may, under MGL c. 80, § 10, appeal such decision within said thirty-day period to the Norfolk County Commissioners. If the Commissioners fail to act on a petition within four months after the date of its filing, the petitioner has 60 days after the expiration of said four-month period to file his appeal. In any event, if the assessment has been paid, no appeal may be taken after the expiration of 10 months from the date of payment.