Town of Georgetown, MA
Essex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Planning Board 6-10-2009. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 165.
Subdivision regulations — See Ch. 365.
This document, subject to revision from time to time in a manner spelled out within, constitutes the current fee schedule and those rules governing the imposition of fees.
A. 
In the past, fees imposed for the consideration of various types of applications have been approximations of cost of processing those applications. These new regulations and fees are designed to produce, as much as possible, a more equitable schedule of fees which more accurately reflects the costs of review.
B. 
In late 1989, the state enacted legislation [This act was approved on December 8, 1989 and became effective on March 8, 1990. The Act, Chapter 593 of the Acts of 1989, insets a new section 53G in M.G.L. Chapter 44. A copy of the legislation is available from the Planning Board office] authorizing towns to establish special accounts, hereafter referred to as "593 accounts," to pay for the employment of outside consultants under the Subdivision Control Law or Georgetown Zoning Bylaws. Fees charged to applicants specifically to pay outside consultants are to be deposited into these 593 Accounts by the Town Treasurer. The Planning Board may then expend the funds, without Town Meeting appropriation, in connection with the employment of these consultants. With the addition of this new structure, the Planning Board is able to create a more exact method of assessing fees.
The Planning Board shall impose reasonable fees for the review of applications that come before it. One or both of the following fee structures (§ 353-3, Administrative fees, and § 353-4, Project review fees) may apply to various types of applications.
A. 
The Planning Board shall assess an administrative fee to offset the expense of review. This administrative fee applies to all applications except those exempted in Subsection G below.
B. 
Administrative fees are to be submitted as part of the initial applications. An application filed without the inclusion of these fees shall be determined to be incomplete, and no review work shall commence until all submission conditions have been met.
C. 
Since administrative fees are imposed for the review process, they are not linked in any way to the determinations of the Planning Board. There are no fees charged for approvals or permits resulting from that review process.
D. 
Once the review process has been started, there shall be no refunding of administrative fees, including the case of withdrawal of the application by the applicant. For this reason, it is important that applicants consult with the Planning Board office prior to formal application to insure that the appropriate permits and review are being sought. (Applicants are encouraged to discuss their intended application with the Planning Board office to avoid unnecessary time and expense in the review of a type of application which clearly conflicts with established Planning Board policies or approved practices. All types of applications are permitted, however.)
E. 
For those applications which are assessed administrative fees calculated, in part, by the number of lots or units being sought, which, during the review process, undergo a change in design resulting in a change in the number of lots or units being sought, the following rules shall apply:
(1) 
If the number of lots or units being sought increases over the number previously sought, the applicant shall pay a fee equivalent to the difference between the fee originally paid and the fee that would have been paid had the original submission included these additional lots or units. No review of these additional lots or units shall take place until this additional fee is paid to the Planning Board office, and failure to make this payment after requesting additional lots shall be grounds for denial of the application.
(2) 
If the number of lots or units being sought decreases from the number originally sought, a refund of that portion of the application fee predicated on those lots or units shall be granted only if, in the judgment of the Planning Board, no review of those lots or units has taken place or no incremental expense has been incurred by the Board in the review process which would not have been incurred in the absence of the lots or units to be deleted. Such judgment by the Planning Board shall require a motion carried by a majority of elected or appointed Board members, and the Board's judgment in such matters shall be deemed final.
F. 
Schedule of administrative fees. The following is the schedule of fees for all types of applications that come before the Planning Board. This schedule supersedes all previous schedules as they appeared in the Georgetown Zoning By-laws, the Rules and Regulations for the Subdivision of Land, and any listings which may have been compiled from time to time for the benefit of applicants.
(1) 
ANR plans. Determinations on approval not required plans shall require a base fee of $100 plus $100 per new lot created.
(2) 
Preliminary plans. Review of preliminary plans shall require a base fee of $500 plus $100 for each building lot shown on the plan.
(3) 
Modification of a preliminary plan. Consideration of a modification to a preliminary plan shall require a fee of $100 plus $50 for each lot affected and for each new building lot created.
(4) 
Definitive plans. Review of definitive plans shall require a fee of $2,000 plus $1,000 per lot. If a preliminary plan is approved, the sum of all fees paid for the preliminary plan review will be subtracted from the definitive plan fee; however, in no case shall the definitive plan fee be less than $2,500. (i.e., a ten-lot subdivision would pay $1,500 in preliminary plan fees. If the preliminary plan is approved, the applicant would pay $12,000 - $1,500 = $10,500 for the definitive plan fees).
(5) 
Modification of a definitive plan. Consideration of a modification to a definitive plan shall require a fee of $500 plus $100 for each lot affected and for each new building lot created.
(6) 
Special permit.
(a) 
Rate of Development Bylaw: $400.
(b) 
Earth Removal: $400.
(c) 
Common driveway: $100 per new unit or lot.
(d) 
Groundwater Protection District: $400.
(e) 
Access across lot frontage: $400.
(f) 
Independent senior housing: $1,000 plus $100 per new unit or lot.
(g) 
Open space residential development: $1,000 plus $100 per new unit or lot.
(h) 
Modification request: $200.
(i) 
Extension request: $500.
(7) 
Site plan approval. Review of site plans shall require a fee of $0.15 per square foot of building footprint of new construction but shall not be less than $1,000.
Summary Table
Type of Application
Fee
ANR
$100 plus $100 per new lot/parcel
Preliminary plan
$500 plus $100 per new lot
Modification of a preliminary plan
$100 plus $50 per lot affected and new lot
Definitive plan
$2,000 plus $1,000 per new lot minus preliminary plan fees (if approved); not less than $2,500
Modification of a definitive plan
$500, plus $100 per lot affected and new lot(s)
OSRD Preapplication conference
$200
Earth removal
$400
Common driveway
$100 per new unit or lot
Groundwater Protection District
$200
Access across lot frontage
$200
Site plan approval
$0.15 per square foot of building footprint area; not less than $1,000
NOTE: The applicant shall pay all expenses incurred by the Planning Board, including the expense of engaging outside consultants. Reimbursement of these expenses is a requirement of approval, and failure to reimburse shall be cause for denial. The Planning Board may set alternative dates for said reimbursement by setting them as a condition of approval of the site plan.
G. 
Exemptions. Some types of Planning Board activities require no administrative fee.
(1) 
Informal discussion. Informal discussion shall require no fee for the first discussion session. The Planning Board has the right to consider imposing a fee of $25 on second and subsequent informal discussions on property that was the subject of previous discussion, if, in the opinion of the Board, the abutters should be notified in writing of the informal discussion sessions.
(2) 
The Planning Board waives any administrative fee under these provisions for applications brought forward by the Town of Georgetown, or by other Town Departments.
H. 
Waivers and modifications. The Planning Board, at its option, may waive or reduce any fee under these provisions, if, in the opinion of the Board, unusual circumstances result in an application fee not envisioned or intended with the adoption of these regulations and fees schedules. The Planning Board must be consistent in applying this provision. Such judgment by the Planning Board shall require a motion carried by a majority of the Board members.
In addition to an administrative fee, which the Planning Board has traditionally imposed, a new second type of fee, referred to herein as the "project review fee," is now possible. This fee is to be deposited into a special account as enabled by MGL c. 44, § 53G, referred to herein as the "593 Account." This fee shall be imposed on those applications which, as designated by the Planning Board, require the services of outside consultants for the review process due to the size, scale or complexity of a proposed project, because of a project's potential impacts, or because the Town lacks the necessary expertise to perform the review work related to the permit or approval. In hiring outside consultants, the Board may engage engineers, planners, lawyers, designers or other appropriate professionals who can assist the Board in analyzing a project to ensure compliance with all relevant laws, ordinances, bylaws and regulations. Such assistance may include, but not be limited to, analyzing an application, monitoring or inspecting a project or site for compliance with the Board's decisions or regulations, or inspecting a project during construction or implementation.
A. 
Moneys shall be collected from the applicant and deposited into the 593 Account upon submission of the application.
B. 
Outside consultants retained by the Planning Board to assist in the review of an application shall be paid from this account.
C. 
The Planning Board shall determine the amount of initial deposit to be made as put forth in the accompanying schedule, and the amount of any additional funds required during the process, should the applicant's 593 Account approach depletion. Such determinations shall be consistent with the requirements of § 353-9B.
D. 
Failure of an applicant to pay a review fee shall be grounds for denial of the application.
E. 
Any excess amount attributable to a particular project, including accrued interest, will be repaid to the applicant, or the applicant's successor in interest, at the conclusion of the review process. For the purpose of this regulation, any person or entity claiming to be an applicant's successor in interest shall provide the Board with documentation establishing such succession in interest.
F. 
Should it become apparent to the Planning Board that an application requires the services of outside consultants for proper review, the Board may require the imposition of this second type of fee, even if it is not normally part of the review process for that type of application, and providing that said imposition is in compliance with the state enabling legislation.
A. 
The choice of a consultant selected by the Planning Board for the review of an application may be appealed in writing to the Board of Selectmen by the applicant, providing such appeal is initiated within 20 days after the Planning Board has mailed or hand-delivered notice to the applicant of the selection.
B. 
The Selectmen shall convene a formal hearing within 20 days of receiving a written appeal by an applicant.
C. 
There are two conditions which will disqualify the selected consultant:
(1) 
Conflict of interest. A consultant may not have a financial interest in a project under review, or be in a position to financially benefit in some way from the outcome of the pending review process. Consultants must be in compliance with Massachusetts Conflict of Interest Law (Chapter 268A).
(2) 
Lack of appropriate qualifications. A consultant must possess the minimum required qualifications. The minimum qualifications shall consist of either an educational degree in, or related to, the field at issue or three or more years of practice in field at issue or a related field.
D. 
The two conditions of Subsection C above are the only grounds for an appeal.
E. 
The required time limits for action upon an application by the Planning Board shall be extended by duration of the administration appeal.
F. 
If the Board of Selectmen renders no decision within one month following the filing of the appeal the selection made by the Planning Board shall stand.
G. 
This administrative appeal shall not preclude further judicial review, if otherwise permitted by law, on the grounds provided for in this section.
A. 
Funds collected from various applicants for the account shall be turned over to the Town Treasurer for deposit into an account separate from other funds.
B. 
A copy of the latest statement from the banking institution handling the 593 Account shall be forwarded from the office of the Town Treasurer to the Planning Board office as soon as it is received for timely accurate accounting.
C. 
The Town Accountant shall prepare a report on activity in the 593 Account on an annual basis.
(1) 
This report shall be submitted to the Selectmen their review.
(2) 
This report shall be printed in the Annual Report for the Town of Georgetown.
D. 
The applicant may request an accounting of an applicant's funds held in the 593 Account at any time.
(1) 
The Planning Board shall respond to the request in a timely fashion.
(2) 
This accounting shall include the following information:
(a) 
The latest statement from the banking institution handling the account, which should include an accurate, accumulated interest portion to the closing date of the statement, if such statements are subdivided into individual applicants' accounts. Otherwise, a statement of principal and interest, prepared by the Planning Board office, based on the latest statement from the banking institution.
(b) 
A report of all checks authorized for issuance since that last banking statement.
(3) 
This accounting shall not include an estimate of accumulated interest since the last banking statement.
E. 
An applicant may request an estimate of bills pending from consultants for work completed, or in progress, but not yet invoiced.
F. 
If available, a brief account summary of the type described under Subsection D above shall be furnished to both the Planning Board and the applicant at each hearing. This will allow the Board to determine if further funds will need to be collected and deposited into the 593 Account should it approach depletion.
G. 
Excess fees in the 593 Account, including accumulated interest, shall be returned to the applicant at the conclusion of the review process as defined herein:
(1) 
With the approval or disapproval (final action) of a preliminary subdivision Plan.
(2) 
With the disapproval (final action) of a definitive subdivision plan.
(3) 
With the release of the performance bond at the end of construction of an approved definitive subdivision plan.
(4) 
With the final inspection or the approval or disapproval (final action) on all other types of applications under the Georgetown Zoning Bylaw, whichever comes later.
When more than one type of application is being sought at the same time (for the same project), only the highest of the applicable project review fees shall be collected for initial deposit into the 593 Account, and not the sum of those fees.
A. 
Initial deposits. The following project review fees for the indicated application types are to be submitted with their initial applications. These fees are good faith estimates of cost of review but may be modified at the sole discretion of the Planning Board as warranted by a particular project.
(1) 
A preliminary plan, modification of a preliminary plan, modification of a definitive plan, or modification of a special permit shall require the following initial project review fee:
Project Size
(lots/units)
Fee
2 to 15
$2,000
16 to 20
$3,000
21 to 25
$4,000
More than 25
$5,000
(2) 
A definitive plan shall require the following initial project review fee:
Project Size
(lots/units)
Fee
2 to 15
$4,000
16 to 20
$6,000
21 to 25
$10,000
More than 25
$12,000
(3) 
A special permit shall require a minimum of $2,000 for the initial project review fee. Depending on the complexity of issues presented, additional fees may be required.
(4) 
Site plan approval permit shall require the following initial project review fees:
Project Size
(square feet of additional floor area)
Fee
Less than 10,000
$2,000
10,000 to 30,000
$3,000
30,000 to 50,000
$4,000
More than 50,000
$5,000
(5) 
Fees for major and complex projects. A site plan review special permit fee may also be assessed for major development review projects or projects which in the opinion of the Board are likely to require substantial outside technical and/or legal assistance due to factors such as the novelty and technical complexity of the project; the potential for adverse impacts; the need for close scrutiny of the project; and the size and scope of the project. The Board, by majority vote, may assess a fee of up to $50,000 for such major and complex projects. Notwithstanding any provision in these regulations to the contrary, any unused portion of the fee assessed for major and complex projects shall be refundable to the applicant at the time the decision is made on the application.
B. 
Exemptions from initial deposits. Form A applications, applications for common driveways, and access other than over the legal frontage require the submission of a project review fee with the initial application. The Planning Board may consider at the first review session, or at any subsequent review session, whether such a fee is warranted, and if so, the amount of the fee may, by vote of the Board, be waived in part or in whole. Such flexibility is necessary because the wide range of scope and scale to such applications makes it difficult to calculate an equitable project review fee without consideration of the project on a case-by-case basis. In addition to those application types listed here, any other type of application not specifically listed in Subsection A above shall be subject to the provisions § 353-4.
C. 
Subsequent deposits. When the balance in an Applicant's 593 Account falls below 50% of the initial project review fee, as imposed under Subsection A above or § 353-4, the Planning Board shall consider whether to require a supplemental project review fee to cover the remaining project review and the attendant costs still to come. The Board may also choose to set a different threshold (other than 25% of the initial deposit) to trigger a reconsideration of the issue.
D. 
Inspection phase of projects. After the granting of a special permit, a definitive plan approval, or any permit or approval which will culminate in construction requiring inspections by Planning Board consultants, the Board may wish to make an adjustment in the funds held in an applicant's 593 Account.
(1) 
The 593 Account may be adjusted by issuing a refund to the applicant or by requiring a supplemental project review fee.
(2) 
Adjustments should be made after all bills for review services have been accounted for.
(3) 
The following levels are suggested for the Board's consideration:
(a) 
All projects (other than those covered below):
Project Size
(lots/units)
593 Account Level
2
$2,000
3 to 5
$3,000
6 to 15
$5,000
16 to 20
$6,000
21 to 25
$8,000
More than 25
$10,000
(b) 
Special permits/site plan approval: $2,000.
(4) 
The Planning Board has the right to require supplemental project review fees if the applicant's 593 Account approaches depletion during the inspection phase of the review process. Such findings of the Board, while subject to the provisions of § 353-9B do not require a formal hearing or prior notice to interested parties.
E. 
Dormant projects. When an applicant knows that there will be no construction activity on a project for at least one year after the permitting process, the applicant may ask the Board for a declaration of "dormant" status with the following conditions:
(1) 
The level of funds in the 593 Account will be adjusted to $500, after all outstanding bills for review services have been accounted for.
(2) 
The applicant must submit the appropriate project review fee to bring the 593 Account back to the designated level for an active project before any work may be done on the site.
(a) 
The 593 Account must be restored before the first inspection.
(b) 
No building permits or lot releases will be granted until the Board is satisfied that all conditions of these provisions have been complied with.
(3) 
The Planning Board may declare that a project no longer qualifies for "dormant" status, if, in the Board's opinion, circumstances render that status inappropriate.
(4) 
A project brought out of "dormant" status, or a project which in the opinion of the Planning Board no longer qualifies for "dormant" status, which has not remained dormant for at least one year shall be subject to a processing fee of $50.
(5) 
Funds in the 593 Account for "dormant" projects may, at the original applicant's discretion, be assigned to a new owner or successor in interest, in the event of a sale or transfer of the land and permits. Appropriate documentation must be provided to the Planning Board establishing the authorization for the reassignment of the 593 Account. (This provision is consistent with § 353-4E, which applies to returned funds at the conclusion of a project.)
A. 
The Planning Board may review and revise its regulations and fee schedules, from time to time, as it sees fit.
(1) 
The Board must do so with an advertised public hearing as defined by law.
(2) 
Voting requirement shall be those spelled out in Subsection B below.
(3) 
Any new regulations or alterations to the schedule shall take effect upon filing a copy of the amendments with the Georgetown Town Clerk and transmittal to the Registrar of Deeds and Recorder of the Land Court.
B. 
The Planning Board shall review its regulations and schedule on an annual basis as of July 1.
(1) 
The Board may waive this provision in any year with a motion carried by a majority of the members.
(2) 
At the time of the Planning Board's annual review, the Board will consider any petitions submitted by an applicant or other member of the public to make revisions to the regulations or the fee schedules. This is the only review initiated by the public. Results of the hearing and any action or changes to the regulations or fee schedules undertaken by the Board are final.
The Board shall be required to make decisions, from time to about fees and about moneys held in the 593 Account. The following rules shall apply:
A. 
Any practices which evolve whereby the Board exempts or reduces fees in a given, definable situation, not spelled out in these regulations, requires the following:
(1) 
Such practices, once recognized, must be applied uniformly to the extent practical and possible.
(2) 
Such practices should be reviewed during the annual review hearing or sooner to see if they can be codified and incorporated into these regulations.
B. 
The following decisions require Board participation:
(1) 
Decisions about individual applications require motions affirmed by a majority of those present in order to carry, but in no case fewer than three affirmative votes.
(2) 
Decisions concerning revisions in the regulations or the fee schedules require motions affirmed by a majority of those holding office at the time of the vote regardless of the number of members in attendance during the vote.
The following rules apply to fees owed to the Planning Board by applicants:
A. 
All fees past due by one month from the date of invoice shall be subject to a monthly charge based upon an annual interest rate of 14%.
B. 
All costs of collection associated with past due accounts shall be borne by the applicant.
C. 
All applicants owing fees to the Planning Board at the time of any amendment to these provisions of the regulations shall be sent the following:
(1) 
A duplicate notice of the amount past due.
(2) 
A copy of these Fee Regulations.
(3) 
Notice of a thirty-day grace period before the commencement of any changes in interest rates or charges.
(4) 
A stop-work order may be placed on any projects with an outstanding balance.