A N A C T
ESTABLISHING THE HOPKINTON LAND TRUST
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. The Town Council of Hopkinton is hereby authorized to establish the Hopkinton Land Trust (hereafter called the Trust), a body politic and corporate and a public instrumentality. The Trust shall have the authority to acquire, hold, and manage real property and interests therein including development rights situated in the Town of Hopkinton consisting of open, residential, agricultural, recreational, historical or littoral property, including existing and future well fields and aquifer recharge areas, fresh water marsh and adjoining uplands, wildlife habitats, and or buildings providing access to or views of water bodies, or for bicycling and hiking paths, or for future public recreation use, and land for agricultural use. With the exception of property acquired for public historical preservation or recreational purposes, the Trust shall hold all property or development rights solely as open space or for agricultural uses or for water purposes or for public access or to prevent the accelerated residential or commercial development thereof, as the trustees may determine.
SECTION 2. The mission of the Hopkinton Land Trust is to protect the Town of Hopkinton's rural character and natural heritage. This is accomplished by preserving land as open space through acquisition and conservation easement while maintaining, where possible, public access to these natural resources.
The Trust will: preserve open space, protect wetlands, ground and surface water, farmland, unusual and exemplary natural habitats, historical or cultural places of significance as well as scenic views through a program of sustained acquisition and stewardship. The Trust will provide public access for recreation and appreciation, and opportunities for research and natural resources education, where possible, on Land Trust properties.
SECTION 3. The Trust shall be administrated by seven (7) trustees to be appointed by the Town Council. The Trustees who are first appointed shall be designated to serve for terms of one (1), two (2), three (3), four (4), five (5), six (6) and seven (7) years respectively. Thereafter, Trustees shall be appointed as aforesaid for a term of office of five (5) years, except that all vacancies occurring during a term shall be filled for the unexpired term.
SECTION 4. The Trustees shall annually elect a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson from their members and shall appoint a secretary who may or may not be a member. Copies of all meeting minutes shall be filed with the Hopkinton Town Clerk.
SECTION 5. The Trustees shall adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the conduct of Trust affairs, including the acquisition and management of its holdings, not inconsistent with the provisions of this act. A quorum for holding legitimate business meetings is four (4) members and decisions of the Trustees shall be by a majority of those present and voting, excepting in decisions of the acquisition of land, easements, rights of way and other uses referred to in Section 6 of this act, which must be by majority vote of all Trustees.
SECTION 6. The Trust shall have the power to:
(a) Purchase, receive by gift, or otherwise acquire fee simple or lesser interests in real property, including development rights of any kind or any interest in real property situated in the Town of Hopkinton;
(b) Accept gifts, grants or loans of funds or resources or services from any source, public or private, and comply, subject to the provisions of this act, with any terms and conditions thereof within the limits of its available funds;
(c) Accept from state and/or federal agencies, loans or grants or resources for use in carrying out the Trust's purposes and enter into agreements with such agencies respecting any such loans or grants within the limits of its available funds;
(d) Employ counsel, auditors, engineers, appraisers, private consultants, advisors, secretaries or other personnel needed to perform its duties within the limits of its available funds;
(e) Administer and manage land and interests in land held by it in a manner which allows, where possible, public use and enjoyment consistent with the natural and scenic resources thereof, including conveyance of any such land or interests in land to and contracts with, nonprofit organizations, provided such land shall continue to be used in a manner consistent with the purposes of this act and with the terms of any grant or devise by which such land was acquired by the Trust;
(f) Dispose of all or any portion of its real property or interests therein held by it whenever in the opinion of the trustees said lands or properties have become unsuitable or have ceased to be used for the purposes set forth in this act. Such disposition shall be made only by a vote of the trustees in which at least four (4) members vote in favor of such a disposition and further only after having been approved by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of an annual or special financial town meeting of the Town of Hopkinton. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to authorize the sale, lease or conveyance of lands or improvements held by the Trust as part of a charitable trust or acquired gift or device for the public use, whether or not such gift or devise is subject to a condition subsequent or reverter;
(g) Otherwise do all things necessary for the performance of its duties, the fulfillment of its obligations and the conduct of its business.
SECTION 7. All funds collected by the Trust shall be deposited in a fund to be set up as a revolving or sinking account by the treasurer of the Town of Hopkinton. Additional moneys or other liquid assets received as voluntary contributions, grants or loans, funds appropriated to the Trust by a vote of a financial town meeting of the Town of Hopkinton, or proceeds from disposal of real property or interests shall be deposited in said account. All expenses lawfully incurred by the Trust in carrying out the provisions of this act shall be evidenced by proper vouchers and shall be paid by the treasurer of the Town of Hopkinton only upon submission of warrants duly approved by the Trust. The treasurer of the Town of Hopkinton shall prudently invest available assets of the funds and all income thereon shall accrue to the fund.
The decision to dissolve the Trust shall only result after a vote of the trustees in which at least four (4) members vote to recommend dissolution of the Trust to the Town of Hopkinton Town Council. The Town Council shall then hold a public hearing on the recommendation to dissolve. At the conclusion of the public hearing the Town Council shall vote on the matter within forty-five (45) days of said hearing.
Upon termination or dissolution of the Trust, the titles of all funds and other properties owned by the Trust which remain after payment or making provision for payment of all bonds, notes and other obligations of the Trust shall vest in the Town of Hopkinton which shall manage the lands of the dissolved Trust in the open space function for which they were donated or purchased to the best interest of the purposes of the Trust. If in the opinion of a majority of the Town Council said lands no longer function in the purposes set forth in this act, the town may dispose of those properties provided that a two-thirds (2/3) vote of an annual or special meeting of the Town of Hopkinton shall affirm said disposal.
SECTION 8. The Trust and all its revenues, income, and real and personal property used by the Trust for furtherance of its public purposes shall be exempt from taxation and from betterments and special assessments, and the Trust shall not be required to pay any tax, excise or assessment to the State of Rhode Island on any of its political subdivisions.
SECTION 9. Nothing in this act shall affect the eligibility of the Town of Hopkinton to receive funds under chapter 4 of title 32 of the general laws or any other state land acquisition program.
SECTION 10. The provisions of this act are severable, and if any provision hereof shall be held invalid in any circumstances such invalidity shall not affect any other provisions or circumstances. This act shall be construed in all respects so as to meet all constitutional requirements. In carrying out the purposes and provisions of this act, all steps shall be taken which are necessary to meet constitutional requirements whether or not such steps are required by statute.
SECTION 11. This act shall take effect upon passage.