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Senate Bill No. 546

Public Act No. 06-128

AN ACT AUTHORIZING MUNICIPALITIES TO ABATE TAXES ON OPEN SPACE LAND AND AUTHORIZING FLOATING AND OVERLAY ZONES AND FLEXIBLE ZONING DISTRICTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2006, and applicable to assessment years commencing on or after October 1, 2006) (a) As used in this section:

(1) "Municipality" means any city, town, borough, district or association with municipal powers; and

(2) "Open space land" means any area of land, including forest land, the preservation or restriction of the use of which would (A) maintain and enhance the conservation of natural or scenic resources, (B) protect natural streams or water supply, (C) promote conservation of soils, wetlands, beaches or tidal marshes, (D) enhance the value to the public of abutting or neighboring parks, forests, wildlife preserves, nature reservations or sanctuaries or other open spaces, (E) preserve historic sites, or (F) promote orderly urban or suburban development.

(b) Any municipality may, by ordinance adopted by its legislative body, establish a program under which property taxes may be abated in exchange for the transfer to the municipality of development rights, conservation easements, rights-of-way or any combination thereof, to open space land. Such ordinance shall include, but not be limited to, provisions for requirements for application for the abatement, which shall include a certified appraisal of the property proposed for abatement both with and without development rights.

(c) The abatement may not exceed the market value of the open space land, may be transferable to any other taxable property in the municipality owned by the applicant and may exist for a period of time to be determined by the legislative body of the municipality.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2006) The zoning authority of any municipality that (1) was incorporated in 1784, (2) has a mayor and board of alderman form of government, and (3) exercises zoning power pursuant to a special act, may provide for floating and overlay zones and flexible zoning districts, including, but not limited to, planned development districts, planned development units, special design districts and planned area developments. The regulations shall establish standards for such zones and districts. Flexible zoning districts established under such regulations shall be designed for the betterment of the municipality and the floating and overlay zones and neighborhood in which they are located and shall not establish in a residential zone a zone that is less restrictive with respect to uses than the underlying zone of the flexible zoning district. Such regulations shall not authorize the expansion of a pre-existing, nonconforming use. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, no planned development district shall be approved which would permit a use or authorize the expansion of a pre-existing nonconforming use where the underlying zone is a residential zone.

Approved June 2, 2006