Article 97 is a powerful and important land management tool in the Commonwealth. For a location of Article 97 properties in Holyoke, please refer to the below map:
It is the policy of the Commonwealth to protect, preserve and enhance all open space areas covered by Article 97 of the Article of Amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Accordingly, as a general rule communities shall not sell, transfer, lease, relinquish, release, alienate, or change the control or use of any right or interest of the Commonwealth in and to Article 97 land. The goal of this policy is to ensure no net loss of Article 97 lands under the ownership and control of the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
An Article 97 land disposition is defined as a) any transfer or conveyance of ownership or other interests; b) any change in physical or legal control; and c) any change in use, in and to Article 97 land or interests in Article 97 land owned or held by the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions, whether by deed, easement, lease or any other instrument effectuating such transfer, conveyance or change.
In order for an Article 97 Land Disposition to occur, the following must happen:
- A proponent must obtain a unanimous vote of the municipal Conservation Commission that the Article 97 land is surplus to municipal, conservation and open space needs;
- A proponent must obtain a unanimous vote of the Municipal Park Commission if the land proposed for disposition is parkland;
- A proponent must obtain a two-thirds City Council vote in support of the disposition;
- A proponent must obtain a two-thirds vote of the legislature in support of the disposition, as required under the state constitution;
- A proponent must comply with all requirements of the Self-Help, Urban Self-Help, Land and Water Conservation Fund, and any other applicable funding sources; and
- A proponent must comply with EOEA Article 97 Land Disposition Policy
- The Governor of the Commonwealth must sign off on the final Article 97 Disposition