Create an Account - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about.
Show All Answers
The Falls area of town was a center of early industrialization along the Connecticut River. Later on it became the location of several industrial mills. With the mills came prosperity for the Falls, and housing for the mill workers, managers, and owners. While the mills are gone, some of the historic housing still remains. Falls residents should rightly be proud of this visual history, not just because of its historic value, but also because it creates pride in the community and stabilizes the value of all properties in the Falls.
After the Selectboard learned that there was some interest in creating a local historic district in the Falls, it appointed a study group to investigate the idea of establishing a local historic district designation. The study group is largely made of people who live in or once lived in the Falls. All members of the study group are deeply interested preserving the unique character of the Falls.
While several areas in the Falls are of historic significance, the study group is suggesting that it is best to start with a small historic district. We are proposing to designate the Old Firehouse Museum, Cordes Court, and North Main Street from about Carew Street up to the rotary, as an historic district. We are very much interested in your opinions about this.
The Historic Districts Act (Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 40C) provides a specific procedure for the establishment of local historic districts in Massachusetts. This process must be followed for a local historic district to be valid. The study group would suggest the approximate boundaries of the proposed local historic district. Then it would survey owners in the proposed district for their opinions about the value of such a district. The study group would want to invite property owners to neighborhood meetings to discuss the proposed local historic district. If there is sufficient interest in proceeding further, the study group would gather data on the historic homes in the proposed district and prepare a Preliminary Study Report for submission to the Town Planning Board and to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) for their consideration and recommendations. The next step would be a public hearing on the issue, at which the language of a bylaw could be discussed. The bylaw would delineate the boundaries of the historic district and also establish a historic district commission. After the public hearing, the study committee would prepare a final report that incorporated the comments and recommendations from the Planning Board, the MHC, and the community and submit it to the Selectboard for its consideration, with a request to get it on the warrant for Town Meeting. Approval would require a two-thirds majority.
The wording of the bylaw would describe specifically how the Selectboard would make appointees to the Historic District Commission. In other communities in Massachusetts, the historic district commission consists of members such as architects, realtors, and property owners of the district. But we are at liberty to set up a commission in any way that homeowners in the proposed district would want.
No, you can maintain the current look of your house as long as you would like. A local historic district commission only reviews proposed changes to exterior architectural features. Routine maintenance of your house is exempt from review.
Exterior architectural features visible from a public way would be reviewed. Interior changes, landscaping, maintenance and exterior features not visible from a public way are not reviewed. Other exemptions can also be included in the bylaw. The bylaw creating the district may also exclude certain categories from review; most frequently these are paint color, storm windows and doors, and window air conditioning units. The purpose of a local historic district is not to halt growth, but to allow for thoughtful consideration of change. The intent is to make changes and additions harmonious, and prevent the intrusion of incongruous elements that might detract from the aesthetic and historic values of the district. Again, historic district commissions are only allowed to review changes to exterior architectural features visible from a public way.
While some local historic districts in Massachusetts do include paint color review, we are recommending NOT including any paint color review.
Before acquiring the building permit for your addition, you would fill out an application to the Historic District Commission. The Commission would hold a public hearing and review the proposed plans to make sure that they are appropriate changes to the historic district. If the addition were appropriate, the district commission would issue a certificate. You would then present the Certificate to the Building Inspector to get your building permit. If the addition were not found appropriate, then the Commission would explain to you how the project could be improved.
While it is true that an additional step is needed for some projects, the benefits of protecting the rich architectural heritage found in the historic district area outweigh this added step. The proposed historic district contains buildings 100 and even 200 years old. Without a local historic district, these gems that have lasted so long could be demolished or irreparably altered tomorrow.
No one can predict the future but studies around the country suggest that property values stay the same or increase faster in local historic districts compared to similar, non-designated areas.
The establishment of a district will actually protect your property. In older neighborhoods of historic character where homeowners are of modest means, there is always a danger that new property owners will not appreciate the need for historic preservation of an area. By having a local historic district, you can be assured that a NEW property owner across the street from your house will also maintain the historic character of the neighborhood.
Simply type Establishing Local Historic Districts into your computer browser search engine. The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth has made this information available online as a PDF document.
On January 31, 1972, Attorney General Robert H. Quinn wrote a legal opinion regarding assessor’s maps, “…the purpose of the maps is only to sufficiently describe the property in question in order to provide effective notice of which property is being taxed.”
John A. Hammer, IIIMass Assn. of Land surveyors & Civil Engineers, Inc.
These maps can be also be retrieved at no cost through our Digital mapping program.
-Your vehicle is valued for more than percentage of manufacturer's list price in the schedule established by G.L. Ch. 60A §1.
-Your vehicle is exempt from the excise under G.L. Ch. 60A §1.
-You sell, trade or otherwise transfer ownership of the vehicle, and transfer or cancel your registration, during the same calendar year.
-You move to another state, register the vehicle there, and cancel or not renew your Massachusetts registration during the same calendar year.
-Your vehicle is stolen, you report the theft to the police within 48 hours, and you cancel your registration and obtain a certificate from Registrar at least 30 days after theft.
-You register the same vehicle again later in the same calendar year.
-You are not entitled to an abatement if you (1) cancel your registration and retain ownership of the vehicle, or (2) move to another Massachusetts city or town, during the same calendar year.
No excise may be reduced to less than $5. No abatement of less than $5 will be made.
Therefore, if your bill is less than $10, no abatement can be issued for the above.
- Vehicle sold or traded: bill of sale (or name and address of purchaser) and proof of cancellation (plate return receipt or lost plate affidavit (form C-19) from the Registry of Motor Vehicles) or new registration if plates transferred to another vehicle.
- Moved from Massachusetts: copy of MA plate return receipt and a copy of the new state registration.
- Vehicle stolen or totaled: police report or insurance company settlement letter (not the incident date) and proof of cancellation or transfer of registration.
- Moved to another city / town: copy of insurance coverage selections page showing the place of garaging as of January 1 of the taxing year or as of the date of registration of the vehicle.
- Blind- Handicapped- Veteran’s (POWs / non domiciliary servicemen)
Please contact our office for details regarding these exemptions, as requirements vary.
The due date is typically February 1.
However, persons that receive an abatement and the amount granted is public information.
Mass appraisal is defined as the use of standardized procedures for collecting dataand appraising property to ensure that all properties within a municipality arevalued uniformly and equitably. It is the process of valuing a group of propertiesas of a given date, using common data, employing standardized methods andconducting statistical tests to ensure uniformity and equity in the valuations.Assessors use mass appraisal procedures and techniques when determining thefair cash value of properties in their municipalities.
Deed references (book and page numbers) are recorded at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds. You can contact the Registry of Deeds located at 33 King Street, Northampton at 413-584-3637 or look up the information on their website
Applications & Forms Page
If a property is sold, when will the bill reflect the new ownership? As stated above the bills are shown with the record owner as of January 1. Therefore, any transfer between January 2 and December 31 will be reflected on the tax bills with a care of (c/o) until the following July 1. However, if someone contacts our office for the current ownership, the new owner information will be provided.
In 2007-2009, the South Hadley master-planning process identified five core initiatives during its robust public engagement process. The number one core initiative was the revitalization of South Hadley Falls. Town Meeting Members subsequently adopted and endorsed the Master Plan in 2010, including the commitment to revitalize South Hadley Falls. In 2012, at the Town’s request, the American Institute of Architect’s Sustainable Design Assistance Team (SDAT) visited South Hadley Falls and met with South Hadley residents. The SDAT then provided a compelling vision for the area.
While there are other parts of town in need redevelopment, only the South Hadley Falls area meets the Commonwealth’s narrow criteria for the establishment of a targeted redevelopment area under the direction of a redevelopment authority. Those criteria include the proportion of vacant lots, empty stores, and properties with deferred maintenance issues. But that does not mean that Town officials are uninterested in redevelopment in other parts of the community. The Selectboard, Town Administrator, Planning Director and Planning Board, as well as the Redevelopment Authority Chair, are all actively engaged in redeveloping other parts of South Hadley.
See question 1 for background. The SDAT vision motivated South Hadley Town Meeting to create the South Hadley Rede¬velopment Authority (SHRA), in 2014. The SDAT vision has provided the framework for the South Had¬ley Falls Urban Redevelopment and Renewal Plan. The plan provides an implementation strategy for the Town to realize that vision, by targeting specific buildings, lots and areas in which to concentrate public and private investment.
A portion of this plan is devoted to the improvement of housing opportunities in South Hadley Falls. Residents of rental units have limited options within the area as they look to purchase a home or upgrade to other units. The plan recommends filling some of the vacant lots in neighborhoods with housing options for a mix of incomes in both ownership and rental units.
Although the target of this plan is South Hadley Falls, its benefits will be felt throughout the community. As redevelopment proceeds, the property tax base will increase, new businesses will be able to start and expand, more services can be offered, and the South Hadley Falls area will become a more attractive place in which to live, work and visit.
South Hadley’s urban renewal plan is simply a road map for the revitalization of South Hadley Falls. The plan aims to satisfy the requirements of a Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development approved Urban Renewal Plan (See Question 6: What does an Urban Renewal Plan look like?). It targets a specific area of South Hadley and its goal is to promote a vibrant, diverse and economically sustainable South Hadley Falls.
See question 1 for background. The plan was developed based on findings from the South Hadley Master Plan and the SDAT vision for South Hadley Falls. The SDAT visit included a “visioning process” whereby concurrent workshops were held in Town Hall. At that event, members of the public were asked to provide their desires for the South Hadley Falls neighborhood. The vision was then developed, with recommendations and goals to strive for in any urban renewal plan for South Hadley Falls. Soon after it was formed, the South Hadley Redevelopment Authority (SHRA) engaged the services of an expert and experienced consultant group, McCabe Enterprises, to aid it in the production of a redevelopment plan. The SHRA then formed a citizen’s advisory board, in order to obtain direction from the public as it moved forward on forming the redevelopment plan. It has met with that group four times. The SHRA has held scheduled public meetings from 2014 to the present to discuss actions related to the plan. We have met and discussed the plan several times, as it has been developed, with our Planning Board and our Selectboard. Members of the RA have attended monthly meetings of the South Hadley Falls Neighborhood Association to provide information and updates, and conducted surveys of residents and businesses in South Hadley Falls as part of the development of the plan.
As a result the advice given to us by our consultant, our advisory group, and boards and committees, we are focusing on Main Street, beginning at our new library and going southward down Main to the intersection of Main and Bridge. The Main/Bridge intersection is the gateway across the Memorial Bridge from Holyoke into South Hadley Falls and South Hadley proper. The proposed redevelopment area in this direction extends a bit further down Main to just beyond the Town Hall. In the east-west direction, we are concentrating on an area that is bounded by Main Street on the east, and bounded on the north and south by Gaylord and Bridge Streets respectively. These streets run eastward from Main and roughly parallel to each other before they both reach the eastern boundary of the redevelopment area on Lamb Street, which is running roughly north/south.
Most of the Redevelopment Authorities operating in Massachusetts were originally created to take advantage of the federal Urban Renewal Program, serving as vehicles for carrying out the federal mandate to eliminate blight from inner cities. Although the federal program no longer exists, Redevelopment Authorities continue to play a role in the Commonwealth’s revitalization under C.121B.
M.G.L. Chapter 121B allows municipalities, through their Redevelopment Authorities acting as urban renewal agencies, to eliminate and redevelop substandard, decadent or blighted open areas for industrial, commercial, business, residential, recreational, educational, hospital or other purposes. With the goals of revitalizing such land uses and encouraging new growth, Redevelopment Authorities have the power to:
Redevelopment Authorities are particularly effective in large scale and complex redevelopment projects and in land assembly. Redevelopment Authorities are exempt from M.G.L. Chapter 30(b), the Uniform Procurement Act, when they are engaged in the development and disposition of real property in accordance with an urban renewal plan. This exemption, coupled with the ability to use eminent domain powers, makes Redevelopment Authorities powerful tools for commercial revitalization, industrial park development, infrastructure improvements, facilities renovation and brownfield site remediation. The development and approval of an urban renewal plan is necessary for a Redevelopment Authority to undertake specific projects. A Redevelopment Authority, as an independent body politic and corporate, is not an agency of a municipality and therefore, does not answer directly to the chief executive. This affords the Redevelopment Authority more autonomy in planning and implementing redevelopment and revitalization projects.
An Urban Renewal Plan is an application submitted by a municipality through its urban renewal agency (like the South Hadley Redevelopment Authority) to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) requesting its approval of a redevelopment project. The Urban Renewal Plan must include the following information as specified under Massachusetts Regulations 760 CMR 12.00:
Recommended actions include improving sidewalks, adding crosswalks, traffic calming enhancements, benches, and streetscapes. The area of concentration for these infrastructure improvements would be Main Street, running from the new library down past and including the Bridge and Main intersection, and extending past Town Hall to the Beach ground Park. Other recommended actions include improvements to the park at the Old Firehouse Museum, improving access to the riverfront, adding bike and walking paths in the area, consolidating properties at the northeast corner of Bridge and Main, and also day lighting that part of Buttery Brook running through the redevelopment plan target area. We also intend to make improvements to the public parking lot on Main Street.
This plan identifies parcels and properties that may be acquired in order to stimulate private investment. For example, the SHELD property will be acquired at no cost to the Town when SHELD moves to another location, elsewhere in South Hadley Falls. Some acquisitions may result in demolition or cleanup of the properties, in order to make the properties site-ready or shovel-ready for redevelopment and construction.
Parcel acquisition, including eminent domain, is a last resort option. The properties listed for acquisition in the plan have generally not seen a high level of interest from the private sector due to their size and/or the cost associated with redevelopment. Many of these properties are either in poor condition, contaminated, too small in size for new construction, have limited access or have other characteristics that are cost prohibitive for a private entity to see a return on investment. With these problems seen throughout the South Hadley Falls, the SHRA will step in and incur some of the cost of redevelopment, in turn creating a market for these properties once again. It is important to point out that none of the properties to be considered for acquisition in the plan is residential.
The active businesses recommended for possible acquisition were selected in order to change the type of land use of the parcel and/or as a critical step to do parcel aggregation for a public benefit project. The SHRA will attempt to acquire all privately owned properties by negotiated purchase. Eminent domain is a last-resort tool that urban renewal agencies, such as the SHRA, have to acquire private property to undertake a necessary project for public benefit. Private property owners must be compensated at fair market value for their property as well as for relocation expenses associated with any taking. The SHRA will make best efforts to reach an out-of-court settlement agreement with private property owners for their properties in return for a financial benefit package.
Yes. Any significant amendments need approval of Town Meeting and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). For example, if a property that was not identified in the plan were to be added for possible acquisition, the plan would need to be amended and approved by Town Meeting and the DHCD.
The URP’s purpose is to spur private investment by targeting the areas and properties that can be a catalyst through public assistance. Targeting the properties with the highest need and potential will therefore increase private development in and around those properties.
As a requirement of MGL 121B, the Urban Renewal Plan must identify funding sources for every action. Since the SHRA does not currently possess funds, seed funding will be sought through grants, Town allocation, parcel transfers from the town to the SHRA or a mix or all options. As the SHRA gains funds from completing projects, any revenue received will be used on future projects in the plan. It is important to note that the plan, while it includes a tentative budget, is not a Town budgetary document. Town Meeting approval of the plan does not commit the Town to funding any part of it. Any subsequent requests for Town funding will be subject to approval by the appropriate committees and by Town Meeting Members.
The plan does not affect any residential properties. If a commercial property is on the possible acquisition list, the plan has certain recommendations for the redevelopment of that property. If a private owner wishes to invest in that property in a manner that is consistent with those recommendations, the SHRA would not seek to acquire such property. If a property is in the redevelopment area but is not included in the possible acquisition list, the SHRA cannot acquire such property.
The plan actions will be taken throughout the next 20 years. Goals have been set for short, mid and long-term within that time. Prioritization of actions was based on thoughtful analysis performed by the SHRA and a paid consultant, in consultation with Town officials. Although the goals for the plan were set, the timing will depend on many factors including but not limited to, availability of funding, private investment, and changing circumstances. As the plan is implemented, goals will constantly be evaluated based on cost of the action and potential revenue leveraged by the action. For example:
The SHRA will continue to meet on a regular basis. Meetings are open to the public and are posted. Check the Town Calendar for meeting postings, agendas and minutes.
No. A Master Plan is a comprehensive plan for a city or town at large and is intended to guide the municipality’s actions over the next decades. The recommendations in the Master Plan are broader than those of an urban renewal plan. An urban renewal plan is a physical plan for a specified area within the community. The urban renewal plan is primarily for the Redevelopment Authority and guides actions with the goal of creating an attractive environment for private investment resulting in a more vibrant community, in which citizens can live, work, and visit. Those actions include property acquisition, infrastructure and streetscape improvements and opportunities for partnerships with other entities engaging in actions that complement the plan.
A list of properties for acquisition can be found in the urban renewal plan.
Assessors use mass appraisal procedures and techniques when determining thefair cash value of properties in their municipalities.