As provided by MGL c. 44, § 53G, the Planning Board may impose reasonable fees for the employment of outside consultants, engaged by the Planning Board, for specific expert services deemed necessary by the Planning Board to come to a final decision on an application submitted to the Planning Board pursuant to the requirements of the Agawam Zoning Bylaws, the Agawam Subdivision Regulations, and any other Town bylaw/ordinance, regulation, or rule as they may be amended or enacted from time to time.
Funds received by the Planning Board pursuant to these rules shall be deposited with the Agawam Treasurer, who shall establish a special account for this purpose. Expenditures from this special account may be made at the direction of the Planning Board without further appropriation as provided in MGL c. 44, § 53G. Expenditures from this account shall be made only in connection with the review of a specific project or projects for which a consultant fee has been collected from the applicant.
Specific consultant services may include but are not limited to the engineering of roads and ways, private and public, driveways, grades, grading, and sanitary systems, to hydrogeologic and drainage analysis, to impact analyses of various kinds, and to environmental and land use law. The consultant shall be chosen by, and report only to, the Planning Board.
The Planning Board shall give written notice to the applicant of the selection of an outside consultant, which notice shall state the identity of the consultant, the amount of the fee to be charged to the applicant, and a request for payment of said fee in its entirety. Such notice shall be deemed to have been given on the date it is mailed or delivered. No such costs or expenses shall be incurred by the applicant if the application or request is withdrawn within five days of the date notice is given.
The fee must be received in its entirety prior to the initiation of consulting services. The Planning Board may request additional consultant fees if necessary review requires a larger expenditure than originally anticipated or new information requires additional consultant services. Failure by the applicant to pay the consultant fee specified by the Planning Board within 10 business days of the request for payment shall be cause for the Planning Board to determine that the application is administratively incomplete (except in the case of an appeal). The Planning Board shall state such in a letter to the applicant copied to City Solicitor. No additional review or action shall be taken on the application until the applicant has paid the requested fee. For applications to be considered under the local bylaw/ordinance regulations only, failure by the applicant to pay the consultant fee specified by the Planning Board within 10 business days of the request for payment shall be cause for the Planning Board to deny the application.
The applicant may appeal the selection of the outside consultant to the City Council, who may disqualify the outside consultant selected only on the grounds that the consultant has a conflict of interest or does not possess the minimum required qualifications. The minimum qualifications shall consist of either an educational degree or three or more years of practice in the field at issue or a related field. Such an appeal must be in writing and received by the City Council and a copy received by the Planning Board within 10 days of the date consultant fees were requested by the Planning Board. The required time limits for action upon the application shall be extended by the duration of the administrative appeal. In the event that no decision is made by the City Council within one month following the filing of the appeal, the selection made by the Planning Board shall stand. The appeal to the City Council shall not preclude further judicial review, if otherwise permitted by law, on the grounds provided for in these rules for MGL c. 44, § 53G.