Introduction to Right-of-Way Requirements and the Uniform Act

Introduction to Right-of-Way Requirements and the Uniform Act


>>Videohost: If a local public agency needs to acquire
vacant property, or property improved with a home or business to construct a Federal-aid project, the local public
agency must follow a process for acquiring that property. Federal right-of-way requirements apply if Federal dollars
are used to fund any phase of the project. Failing to meet the right-of-way requirements can jeopardize
your project from being eligible to receive Federal funds. For this reason, it’s important to know the Federal
requirements and when they apply. When an agency acquires property for a
federal-aid project, right-of-way requirements are in place to provide benefits, protection, and payment of just compensation.
When a project displaces an individual, family, business, farm or non-profit organization, additional services and payments are required. The Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition
Policies Act of 1970, otherwise known as the Uniform Act, is the primary, but not exclusive, law for right-of-way related acquisition
and relocation activities on Federal-aid projects. The Uniform Act establishes the requirements and procedures
that you, as a local public agency, must follow when Federal dollars are used to fund a project.>>Female narrator: The Uniform Act consists of three titles or parts.
Title I, the General Provisions, contains definitions and eligibility criteria for displaced persons.
Title II addresses relocation assistance. This part contains housing payments for owners
and tenants and assures that displaced persons are provided with comparable replacement housing
prior to displacement. This section also covers moving and related expenses,
as well as relocation planning and advisory services. Title III establishes the policy and requirements for
acquiring property on Federal-aid projects. In this section, standards are set for appraisals,
offers, negotiations, payment, possession, settlement, and other equitable considerations. The Uniform Act and right-of-way requirements apply
any time an agency seeks to acquire real property to make way for the construction of a Federal-aid project. Real property is a term that is used to describe land or
improvements to land, fee interests, easements, air or access rights, or the rights to control the use of land,
such as leases. For example, an agency might ask a property owner to
convey a temporary or permanent easement in order to construct a project. When agencies acquire temporary or permanent easements
from a property owner, that agency is acquiring real property interests, which is considered right-of-way.
Because this is a Federal-aid project, the Uniform Act and right-of-way requirements would apply. In order to comply with right-of-way related requirements
on Federal-aid projects, you must understand when to follow the requirements.
The Uniform Act requirements apply: Any time real property or interests in real property is
required for a project, and the agency chooses to use Federal-aid funds in any phase of the project. Any time people or businesses are displaced by a project,
and the agency chooses to use Federal funds for any phase of that project. These requirements must not be overlooked in
a situation where a project does not use federal funding until the construction phase. For example, many agencies use local
money to fund the design and right-of-way phases of a project. Upon reaching the construction phase of the project, a request
for Federal assistance is made. The project would be eligible for Federal funds provided the
agency complied with the requirements of the Uniform Act during the right-of-way phase of the project. Now that we understand when right-of-way requirements
are applicable, let’s review the right-of-way procedures that an agency needs to follow. These procedures ultimately determine just compensation.
If it is determined that real property is needed to construct the project, the appropriate right-of-way procedures
should be followed. Here is an overview of the primary steps an agency
must follow to meet the requirements of the Uniform Act: First, you must determine the fair market value of the
property being acquired. Next, you must offer just compensation and negotiate
the acquisition of the property or property interests. Finally, after acquiring the property, the agency must
provide relocation assistance to those who are displaced. If all attempts to negotiate an agreement to acquire
property fail, it may be necessary for your agency to exercise the power of eminent domain.
Property acquired through eminent domain means the government uses its power to acquire private property
for a public use. Each State has specific laws governing condemnation procedures.
Make sure you are familiar with your State’s requirements. The Uniform Act is the primary law for right-of-way related
acquisition and relocation activities on federally assisted projects. Right-of-way requirements are applicable if an agency chooses
to accept Federal funds for any phase of a project that acquires real property or displaces people or businesses.
State departments of transportation play a vital role in the right-of-way process on Federal-aid projects, and they are
available to provide assistance when you have questions concerning right-of-way and the Uniform Act.

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