Town of Cohasset, MA
Norfolk County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted as Art. III of the 1988 General Bylaws]
A. 
The Moderator shall be elected for a term of three years and shall receive compensation as fixed by the Town Meeting.
B. 
The Moderator is the head of the legislative branch of the Town and shall preside at Town Meeting.
C. 
All committees authorized by the Town Meeting, except as otherwise provided by law, these bylaws, or vote of the Town, shall be appointed by the Moderator as soon as possible after passage of the vote creating the committee.
A. 
The Board of Selectmen shall consist of five members: one member to be elected in 1988 to hold office for three years, two members to be elected in 1989 to hold office for three years, two members to be elected in 1990 to hold office for three years, and each to hold office until his successor is qualified. Thereafter when the term of a member expires, the Town shall elect by ballot members of the Board to serve for three years and until a successor is qualified. They shall hold no other elected Town office, and shall receive compensation as fixed by the Town Meeting.
B. 
The executive powers of the Town shall be vested in the Board of Selectmen, which shall have all the powers given to boards of selectmen by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Town Manager Act, and such additional powers that may be given to the Board of Selectmen by the General Bylaws of the Town of Cohasset, which may be amended from time to time. The Selectmen shall exercise, through the Town Manager, general supervision over all matters affecting the interest or welfare of the Town. The Board of Selectmen shall serve as the chief goal setting and policymaking body of the Town, and as such shall not normally administer the day-to-day affairs of the Town.
[Amended 4-28-2014]
C. 
The Selectmen shall cause to be compiled, printed, posted and distributed the warrant for each Annual and Special Town Meeting, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 45, Town Meeting, of these bylaws.
D. 
The Selectmen shall cause to be printed and ready for distribution, at least seven days before the Annual Town Meeting, a report giving a detailed statement of the receipts and expenditures of the Selectmen, Treasurer-Collector, School Committee, and all other Town officers, boards or committees who or which have had charge of expenditures of Town funds for the financial year immediately preceding. The Annual Report shall also contain all reports for the preceding year submitted by appointed and elected officers, boards and committees, and the Town Clerk's record of Town Meetings held, a list of vital statistics of Cohasset citizens, election results, the jury list and any other matters required under MGL c. 40, § 49.
E. 
The Selectmen may appear, either personally or by Town Counsel or by special counsel duly employed by them, before any court, committee of the Legislature, commission, or other tribunal, to protect the interests of the Town, but they are not authorized hereby to commit the Town to any course of action. They shall have authority as agents to institute, prosecute, and defend suits and claims against or involving the interests of the Town, and may pay settlements not exceeding $10,000 from any appropriation or funds which may be legally available for the purpose, when, in their judgment and upon advice of counsel, such settlement is in the best interests of the Town.
[Amended 7-27-1990]
F. 
The Selectmen shall have the possession and management of all real property purchased or taken for taxes not inconsistent with law or with the right of redemption. They may sell at public or private sale any property acquired by the Town through proceedings based on nonpayment of taxes and may impose upon the property so sold such restrictions, reservations, or conditions as shall seem appropriate. They may execute, acknowledge, and deliver, in the name and under the Seal of the Town, deeds or other instruments therefor. In the sale, conveyance and transfer of real estate permitted or specifically authorized by the Town vote for a stipulated sum to a designated person, the Selectmen may, whenever they deem it in the best interests of the Town, sell, convey and transfer such real estate for a larger sum to a different person or at a public auction.
G. 
Whenever it is necessary to execute a deed or other instrument conveying any interest in land belonging to the Town, other than a tax deed, unless it is otherwise provided by law or by vote of the Town, such deed or instrument shall be executed on behalf of the Town by a majority of the Selectmen, and it shall be sealed with the Town Seal.
H. 
The Selectmen shall have the right to sell any item of personal property of the Town after it has been properly appraised by a qualified person. If the property is appraised at more than $1,000, the property shall be offered for sale at public auction. If property is not sold at public auction, or if it has been declared by a qualified person to be unsalable or of negligible value, the Selectmen may offer it to nonprofit charitable organizations and, if not accepted, to anyone who will remove the property promptly at no charge. All moneys realized from all sales shall be turned over to the Town Treasurer-Collector.
[Amended 4-30-2018 ATM by Art. 18]
I. 
The Selectmen shall keep insured against loss, damage, or fire all insurable property of the Town, both real and personal. They shall maintain general liability, group health, accident, and life insurance for all eligible Town employees.
J. 
The Selectmen shall have such other powers, duties, and responsibilities as are provided by the Massachusetts General Laws, including, without limitation, the following:
(1) 
Appointing workers at elections, in accordance with MGL c. 51;
[Amended 6-2-1998]
(2) 
Acting as Tree, Park and Cemetery Commissioners and in that connection shall, among other things, care for and maintain trees, playgrounds, and public parks, including Wheelwright Park, in conformity with the Massachusetts General Laws and with provisions of specific bequests;
[Amended 6-2-1998]
(3) 
Caring for and managing all public cemeteries;
[Amended 6-2-1998]
(4) 
Issuing gasoline permits and the following licenses: Sunday, liquor, entertainment, common victualler, inn holder, Class I, II, and III automobile dealers, junk collector, auctioneer, peddler, and transient vendor. They shall establish appropriate fees for such licenses and permits if not otherwise specified by law;
[Amended 4-4-1992; 6-2-1998]
(5) 
Renting property of the Town under their jurisdiction on such terms and conditions as they deem appropriate and in the best interest of the Town;
[Amended 6-2-1998]
(6) 
Conducting hearings involving complaints about dogs and other animals, and enforcing the provisions of these bylaws concerning such matters;
[Amended 6-2-1998]
(7) 
That decorative lighting be permitted on the Town Common for events sponsored by nonprofit, civic, charitable, recreational and educational organizations; the size, type, form, duration and location of such lighting shall be subject to the written permission of the Board of Selectmen. Nothing contained herein shall limit the lighting being displayed during the period that is allowed under § 300-6.3B(2) of the Zoning Bylaw for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors to the Town of Cohasset;
[Amended 7-22-1997]
(8) 
The Board of Selectmen is authorized to establish from time to time fees and charges for licenses, permits and other municipal purposes granted by departments under the Board's jurisdiction, such authority hereby granted and such fees and charges established to be consistent with the General Laws of the commonwealth.
[Amended 7-6-1999]
K. 
Public and private ways.
[Amended 12-1-1996; 5-1-2017 ATM by Art. 21]
(1) 
Pursuant to the provisions of MGL c. 40, § 6N, the Selectmen are authorized to provide for the making of temporary repairs to private ways subject to the following conditions:
(a) 
Any repairs shall be as determined by the Board of Selectmen;
(b) 
Drainage facilities shall be included to the extent required by public convenience and necessity as determined by the Board of Selectmen upon advice from the Superintendent of Public Works;
(c) 
The Board of Selectmen shall make a determination that such repairs are required by public necessity before such repairs may be undertaken;
(d) 
Such repairs shall only be made if the Board of Selectmen receives a petition from abutter(s) who own at least 50% of the linear footage along such way;
(e) 
Betterment charges may be assessed by the Board of Selectmen on the abutter(s) of such way up to an amount equal to the cost of such repairs;
(f) 
The Town shall have no liability as a result of any such repairs, except as may be provided by law, and shall be held harmless on account of any damages whatever caused by such repairs by agreement executed by the abutter(s) who petitioned therefor;
(g) 
The private way shall have been opened to the public use for two years or more prior to the undertaking of such repairs;
(h) 
The Board of Selectmen may require a cash deposit equal in amount to the estimated cost of such repairs, as determined by the Superintendent of Public Works, to be paid to the Town prior to the commencement of such repairs;
(i) 
The Board of Selectmen may use any collection process deemed necessary in collecting from the abutters.
(2) 
Pursuant to MGL c. 82, the Board of Selectmen is authorized to lay out, alter and relocate public ways and private ways, and to order specific repairs for public and private ways. For owners of any private ways open to the public for public use:
(a) 
Such owners may petition the Board of Selectmen to lay out, alter and relocate such private ways, to order specific repairs to such ways, and to place an article on the warrant to have such ways accepted by Town Meeting as a public way.
(b) 
The laying out, alteration and relocation of any private way or portion thereof shall only cause such private way or portion thereof to become a public way upon the acceptance by Town Meeting of such layout, alteration or relocation and the acquisition by the Town of rights to property for any such way or portion thereof that is to be a public way.
(c) 
Before any such way is entered upon for the purposes of construction, or is closed up, the persons upon whose application such way was laid out, relocated or altered or specific repairs are to be made shall give to the Town security satisfactory to the Board of Selectmen that such persons will indemnify the Town for all damages and charges that the Town is obligated to pay arising from such laying out, alteration, relocation and specific repairs.
(d) 
After due notice and hearing, the Board of Selectmen may determine to approve or deny all or any part of such petitions in accordance with applicable law and policies implemented by the Board of Selectmen.
(e) 
Costs and charges may be apportioned, assessed and collected pursuant to any applicable law, including as betterments pursuant to MGL c. 80.
(f) 
The Board of Selectmen may from time to time adopt and amend policies and guidelines to implement its authority hereunder.
L. 
The Selectmen shall have additional appointment powers pursuant to the Town Manager Act.
[Added 4-28-2014]
A. 
The Town Clerk shall be elected for a term of three years and shall assume office seven days after his election. An individual who has served in the office of Town Clerk for five consecutive years may, by vote at a Town election, hold that office during good behavior pursuant to the provisions of MGL c. 41, § 19B. He shall be compensated as fixed by Town Meeting.
B. 
The Town Clerk shall perform the duties required of him by the Massachusetts General Laws, including, without limitation, keeping a record of vital statistics, election results, the jury list, the list of residents of the Town, and the list of registered voters, and shall record and file all agreements and other papers and documents affecting the interests of the Town.
C. 
The Town Clerk shall instruct the Town Counsel to record every instrument conveying an interest in land to the Town, except as otherwise provided by law, in the proper Registry of Deeds, and shall retain custody of all such recorded instruments upon their return from the Registry of Deeds. He shall keep, in a book devoted to that purpose alone, true copies of all conveyances executed and delivered by the Town of any interest in land.
D. 
The Town Clerk shall keep on file these bylaws and all revisions thereof and additions or amendments thereto, and shall make copies available to the public. The Town Clerk shall serve ex officio as a member of the Bylaw Committee.
E. 
The Town Clerk shall keep minutes of all Town Meetings and record all votes as declared by the Moderator. His report of any Town Meeting shall include each article in its entirety, together with the main motion and any amendments thereto and the disposition thereof.
F. 
The Town Clerk shall immediately after every Town Meeting furnish the Board of Assessors, the Town Accountant, and the Treasurer-Collector with a statement of all moneys appropriated by the Town at such meeting, and of the purpose of each appropriation.
G. 
The Town Clerk shall include in the regular record of a Town Meeting such portions of any report of a board or committee whose recommendations have been adopted as may be necessary for understanding the action taken by the Town. Unless such a report has been printed in full in the Town Report, the Clerk shall cause it to be entered in full in the Book of Reports. This book shall be properly indexed. The reports shall be numbered for each municipal year in the order of their presentation, and a marginal reference shall be made of the date of the meeting at which the report was presented. The regular record of the meeting shall also make reference to the number of the report as entered in the Book of Reports.
H. 
The Town Clerk, as soon as possible after a vote of the Town has been passed which relates to or affects the duties of any board, committee, or officer of the Town, shall furnish a copy of such vote to such board, committee, or officer.
I. 
The Town Clerk shall promptly notify in writing each individual who was elected to an office or committee at any Town Meeting.
J. 
The Town Clerk shall provide and have in readiness for use at Town Meetings a sufficient supply of "Yes" and "No" ballots. These ballots shall be identical in size, shape, color, paper, and ink, and in size and style of type.
K. 
The Town Clerk shall, at least 60 days prior to each Annual Town Meeting, notify in writing the chairman of any committee which has made no report to the Selectmen for inclusion in the Annual Report that a report must be presented from the floor at the Annual Town Meeting for that year.
A. 
The Board of Assessors shall consist of three members, each elected for a three-year term, with one member elected each year. They shall hold no other elective office and shall receive compensation as fixed by the Town Meeting.
B. 
The Board of Assessors shall elect a Chairman and a Secretary each year.
C. 
The Board of Assessors shall annually establish or cause to be established the fair market value for all real estate and personal property in the Town and shall assess taxes accordingly, as provided under MGL c. 59.
[Amended 4-6-1991]
D. 
The Assessors shall deliver the tax list and warrant for collection to the Town Treasurer-Collector. Additional warrants shall be issued to the Treasurer-Collector for all taxes assessed or reassessed which are not covered by the original warrant.
E. 
The Assessors shall keep the record required by law of all tax abatements. Each month the Assessors shall notify the Town Treasurer-Collector and Town Accountant in writing as to the amount of taxes abated from each tax levy.
A. 
The School Committee shall consist of five members, two members to be elected at the Annual Town Meeting in 1988 to hold office for three years, two members to be elected at the Annual Town Meeting in 1989 to hold office for three years, and one member to be elected at the Annual Town Meeting in 1990 to hold office for three years, each to hold office until his successor is qualified. Thereafter when the term of a member expires, the Town shall elect by a ballot a member of the Committee to serve for three years and until his successor is qualified.
[Amended 4-30-2018 ATM by Art. 18]
B. 
The School Committee shall formulate the policy of the local school system to achieve the educational objectives of the community in conformity with the directives of the State Board of Education.
C. 
The School Committee shall have such duties and responsibilities as are provided in the Massachusetts General Laws and shall be specifically responsible for the following areas of school administration:
(1) 
Policy determination;
(2) 
Financial planning and budgeting;
(3) 
Appointment and dismissal of personnel;
(4) 
Approval of courses and textbooks;
(5) 
Planning of school services;
(6) 
Evaluation of school programs;
(7) 
Negotiation of contracts with School Department employees;
(8) 
Purchase of materials, equipment, and supplies for the School Department and awarding of contracts for the physical plant.
D. 
The School Committee shall elect a Chairman and shall appoint one of its members as Secretary, who shall keep and have available a permanent record book, in which all its votes, orders, and proceedings shall be recorded.
E. 
Meetings of the School Committee shall be properly called and advertised.
F. 
The School Committee shall meet at least every other month with the Student Advisory Committee.
G. 
As soon as a vacancy occurs on the School Committee, written notice must be given to the Board of Selectmen. After one week's notice, the Board of Selectmen and the remaining members of the School Committee shall meet together and by majority vote elect a person to fill the vacancy. The new appointee shall serve only until the next Town election, at which time a successor shall be elected to fill the unexpired term.
A. 
The Board of Health shall consist of three members, with one member elected each year for a three-year term.
B. 
Each year the Board shall elect one of its members as Chairman.
C. 
The Board shall have such duties and responsibilities as are prescribed by MGL c. 111 and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
D. 
The Board may establish reasonable health regulations. A summary of such regulations which summary describes the substance of the regulation shall be published once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Town. Regulations pertaining to the subsurface disposal of sanitary sewage shall be noticed in accordance with MGL c. 111, § 31. All adopted regulations shall be filed with the Town Clerk.
[Amended 6-2-1998]
E. 
The Board shall have authority to restrain and prosecute violators of state or local health regulations.
[Amended 6-2-1998]
F. 
The Board shall have authority to issue permits for private disposal facilities, collection of garbage, and construction and repair of septic systems. The Board of Health shall not grant a site assignment for a proposed solid waste facility or any portion thereof located within the Water Resource District, where solid waste facilities are a prohibited use.
[Amended 1-25-1996; 7-17-2000]
A. 
The Planning Board shall consist of five members, with one member elected each year for a five-year term and one associate member elected for a three-year term. Such associate member shall sit on the Planning Board only when designated by the Chairman of the Planning Board for the purposes of acting on any matter within the jurisdiction of the Planning Board in the case of absence, inability to act, or conflict of interest on the part of any member of the Planning Board or in the event of a vacancy on the Planning Board.
[Amended 3-2-2010; 5-2-2016 ATM by Art. 22]
B. 
The Planning Board shall elect from among its members a Chairman, a Vice Chairman, and a Clerk each year.
C. 
The Planning Board shall from time to time study needs and potential of the Town and, where necessary, prepare plans. It shall submit a report of such studies and plans to the Selectmen and shall furnish a copy of the report to the Department of Housing and Community Development. It shall also report to the Town Meeting on the condition of the Town and shall give information on any plans or proposals for Town development and shall also send a copy of this report to the Department of Housing and Community Development.
[Amended 4-30-2018 ATM by Art. 18]
D. 
The Planning Board shall have responsibility for administration of subdivision control, in accordance with MGL c. 41, §§ 81K through 81GG.
E. 
The Planning Board shall have such other duties and responsibilities as are imposed upon it by MGL c. 40A and MGL c. 41, §§ 81A through 81J.
A. 
There shall be three Water Commissioners with one elected each year for a three-year term.
B. 
The Water Commissioners shall have exclusive charge and control of the municipal Water Department and water system subject to federal and state laws and these bylaws, and to such instructions, rules, and regulations as the Town may from time to time impose by its vote.
C. 
The Water Commissioners shall fix just and equitable rates for the use of the Town water system and shall prescribe the time and manner of payment of such charges. In setting rates, the Water Commissioners shall raise sufficient income to defray all operating expenses, interest charges, and payments on the principal as they may accrue upon any bonds or notes issued for the purchases of the municipal water system. Upon approval by Town Meeting, such water rates shall become effective.
D. 
The Water Commissioners shall have the power to award contracts for sums not to exceed those approved by the Town Meeting for all work to be performed in the construction and maintenance of the Town water system.
E. 
The Water Commissioners shall establish rules and regulations for the use of the Town water system. These rules and regulations shall become effective when filed with the Town Clerk.
F. 
The Water Commission pursuant to the provisions of MGL c. 40, § 39H, is authorized to enter into contracts with, or go to aid, any other city, town, commission, district, or water company, as defined in MGL c. 165, § 1, with regard to the operation, administration, repair, and maintenance of its water supply system. Such contracts may be made to provide water to another city or town on an emergency basis, or to provide water service on a long-term basis to any other city, town, commission, district, or water company or to one or more customers of any other town who cannot be reasonably provided water supply services by that town. Any such contracts may be for a period not to exceed 20 years, and may not exceed 50% of the daily safe yield as certified by the Department of Environmental Protection, and the aggregate of all such contracts may not exceed 50% of the daily safe yield as certified by the Department of Environmental Protection; provided, however that such contracts shall not take effect without the approval of Town Meeting.
[Amended 12-28-1998; 5-9-2007; 4-30-2018 ATM by Art. 18]
[Amended 4-6-1991]
A. 
There shall be three Sewer Commissioners, with one elected each year for a three-year term.
B. 
The Sewer Commissioners shall supervise the operation of the Sewer Department and shall ensure that it conforms with all federal and state environmental and health regulations.
C. 
The Sewer Commissioners shall be responsible for all planning relating to the expansion of the Town sewer system and shall establish and update a master plan incorporating all areas of the Town.
D. 
The Sewer Commissioners have the power to award contracts for sums not to exceed those approved by Town Meeting for all work to be performed in the construction and maintenance of the Town sewer system.
E. 
The Sewer Commissioners shall establish fees for the use of the Town sewer system. Such fees shall be based upon the volume of water used and shall be approved by vote of the Town Meeting.
F. 
The Sewer Commissioners may from time to time prescribe rules and regulations for the connection of estates and buildings with sewers, and for inspection of materials, the construction, alteration and use of all connections entering into such sewers, and may prescribe penalties for each violation of any such rule or regulation as authorized by law.
G. 
The Sewer Commissioners shall have such other duties and powers as are provided by federal and state law and these bylaws.
A. 
There shall be nine Library Trustees with three elected annually, each for a three-year term.
B. 
The Library Trustees shall elect a Chairman and a Secretary each year.
C. 
The Town Treasurer-Collector shall act as Treasurer of the Paul Pratt Memorial Library.
D. 
Except as otherwise provided in the Massachusetts General Laws, the Library Trustees shall have the control of the following:
(1) 
All gifts and bequests to the Library, in accordance with the terms of such gifts or bequests.
[Amended 6-2-1998]
E. 
The Town Manager shall appoint the Head Librarian and other professional assistants and the Library Trustees shall select books and all other library media.
[Amended 6-2-1998]
A. 
The Recreation Commission shall consist of seven members, with one elected each year for four successive years and three elected the fifth year. All members shall serve a five-year term.
B. 
The Recreation Commission shall promote, encourage, and coordinate recreational activities for all citizens of the Town, and in connection therewith may establish self-supporting service revolving funds, to the extent permitted by MGL c. 44, § 53D.
C. 
The Recreation Commission shall be responsible for making recommendations to the Board of Selectmen concerning maintenance and improvement of recreational areas owned by the Town.
[Amended 6-2-1998]
D. 
The Recreation Commission may cooperate with adjoining towns in establishing joint recreational areas.
[Amended 6-2-1998]
A. 
The Cohasset Housing Authority shall consist of five members, with one member to be elected in each of four consecutive years for a five-year term, and one member to be appointed by the Department of Housing and Community Development every fifth year for a five-year term.
[Amended 4-30-2018 ATM by Art. 18]
B. 
The Authority is responsible for determining the need for community housing in the Town, as set forth in MGL c. 121B.
C. 
The Authority is responsible for obtaining approval and funding for community housing projects from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and/or the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
[Amended 4-30-2018 ATM by Art. 18]
D. 
The Authority shall oversee the construction of community housing projects and shall be responsible for their operation, maintenance, and administration.