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H.555

Introduced by   Representative Bohi of Hartford

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Municipal government; fire districts; legislative approval

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require the general assembly to enact a charter for the establishment of a fire district.  The selectboard of a municipality would be authorized to approve a proposed fire district, but the fire district would not be established until a charter for the fire district was enacted by the general assembly.  The process for enactment of the charter would be the same as currently set forth for municipal charters.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FIRE DISTRICTS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  20 V.S.A. § 2481 is amended to read:

§ 2481.  ESTABLISHMENT; CHANGE OF LIMITS

(a)  Upon application in writing of 20 or more freeholders or voters of a proposed fire district, the selectboard of the town in which the fire district would be located may, after a duly warned public hearing, may establish approve such a proposed fire district and define its limits.  Such application  Within 10 days of approval of an application for the establishment of a proposed fire district, the selectboard shall propose to the general assembly to adopt a charter for the fire district.  Such proposal shall be made in accordance with the requirements of subsections 2645(b), (c), and (d) of Title 17.  The proposed fire district charter submitted to the general assembly shall contain a list of the powers mentioned in sections 2601 and 2603 of this title which the proposed district shall have, and the district shall not have any of the other powers mentioned in these sections.  Fire districts thus created shall be named by number in the order of their establishment approval.  The selectboard shall file a certificate of its doings in the office of the town clerk for record.  For purposes of this subsection, a “public hearing” shall be a meeting of the legislative body of a town or of a fire district for the duly warned purpose of establishing or changing the limits of a fire district.  Public notice for a public hearing required by this subsection shall be given not less than 15 days prior to the date of the public hearing by:

(1)  The publication of the date, place, and purpose of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality affected; and

(2)  The posting of the same information in one or more public places within the municipality.

(b)  The selectboard may approve an amendment to or repeal of a fire district charter or a change to the limits of a fire district, as set forth in its charter, upon a similar application and in like manner as set forth in subsection (a) of this section subject to the approval by the fire district at the annual or a special meeting of the fire district duly warned but any change in limits of a fire district may take place only with the consent of the majority of the landowners newly included within or excluded from those boundaries by that alteration.  A record of any alteration of fire district boundaries shall be made by the town clerk.  Only property contiguous to the fire district shall be the subject of an expansion of the boundaries of a fire district.  For purposes of this subsection, a “public hearing” shall be a meeting of the legislative body of a town or of a fire district for the duly warned purpose of establishing or changing the limits of a fire district.  Public notice for a public hearing required by this subsection shall be given not less than 15 days prior to the date of the public hearing by:

(1)  The publication of the date, place, and purpose of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality affected; and

(2)  The posting of the same information in one or more public places within the municipality.

(b)(c)  If a petition signed by five percent of the legal voters of the town objecting to the proposed establishment or change of limits of the fire district is presented to the town clerk within 30 days of the date of posting and publication of the notice required by subsection (a) of this section, the selectboard shall cause the question of whether the town shall establish approve the establishment of or change the limits of the fire district to be considered at a special or annual meeting called for that purpose.  After the meeting, the fire district shall be established approved or the limits changed unless a majority of the voters of the town present and voting vote to disapprove of such establishment or change of limits.  If a petition signed by five percent of the legal voters of a town objecting to a selectboard decision denying the establishment approval or the change of limits of a fire district is presented to the town clerk within 30 days of the selectboard decision, the selectboard shall cause the question of whether the town shall establish approve or change the limits of the fire district to be considered at a special or annual meeting called for that purpose.

Sec. 2.  20 V.S.A. § 2489 is amended to read:

§ 2489.  FIRE DISTRICTS; TWO OR MORE TOWNS

(a)  Where the limits of a proposed fire district include two or more towns, or portions of two or more towns, irrespective of whether the towns are situated in different counties, the application set forth in section 2481 of this title shall be made to the selectmen of each such town and the selectmen of each town as provided in section 2481 of this title may establish approve the proposed fire district and define its limits.  The selectmen of each town shall file a certificate of their doings for record in the office of their respective town clerks and, if the proposed district extends into more than one county, in the office of the clerk of each such county.  Within 10 days of approval of the proposed fire district of the last selectboard approving the application, the selectboard of each municipality approving the fire district shall propose to the general assembly to adopt, amend, or repeal a charter for the fire district.  A proposal to adopt, amend, or repeal a charter for a fire district shall be made in accordance with the provisions of 17 V.S.A. § 2645(b), (c), and (d).  The selectmen selectboard may change the limits of the fire district upon a similar application subject to the approval of the fire district as provided in this chapter.

* * *

Sec. 3.  20 V.S.A. § 2541 is amended to read:

§ 2541.  FORMATION

At an annual or special meeting, by a majority vote of those present and voting, towns may vote to form propose to the general assembly to adopt a charter for a fire district whose limits shall be the town limits, provided the warning for such meeting contains an article to that effect.  The proposal to adopt the charter shall be made in accordance with the provisions of 17 V.S.A. § 2645(b), (c), and (d).

Sec. 4.  17 V.S.A. § 2645(d) is amended to read:

(d)  The adoption, repeal, or amendment of a charter shall become effective upon affirmative enactment of the proposal, either as proposed or as amended by the general assembly.  A charter of subsequent amendments shall not contain a provision that allows the charter to be amended without approval by the general assembly.  A proposal for a charter amendment may be enacted by reference to the amendment as approved by the voters of the municipality.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us