The rules Lane County has to follow when
ACQUIRING REAL ESTATE
FOR PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
A Description of the Acquisition Program
The Right of Way Management Section of the Engineering and Construction Services Division has the task of acquiring real property for public improvement projects. It is the aim and desire of the County to obtain any necessary real property with fairness and equity.
The County is authorized to acquire private property for public use. Coupled with this duty goes the obligation to protect the rights of individual property owners. The County thus has a dual responsibility and obligation:
protection of individual’s rights that are affected by acquisition of land,
provision of competent and efficient service to the general public.
Owners will be offered Just Compensation for the portion of their property needed for a roadway project. The Just Compensation amount is determined by an appraisal and forms the basis of monetary offers presented to property owners. Just Compensation includes the estimated value of all the land and improvements within the needed area. In addition, if only a part of a property is to be acquired, the amount will also include any measurable loss in value or damages to the remaining property due to the partial acquisition.
County procedures, guided by state and federal regulations, have been established to protect both property owners of needed roadway rights-of-way, as well as other taxpayers. The valuation process will be conducted either by an experienced and qualified employee of the County or by an independent fee appraiser. Considerations in estimating value will include comparison to similar properties that have recently sold, analysis of construction costs and depreciation for any improvements to be acquired, and analysis of the property’s income potential, if applicable. Any information which the property owner can supply to the appraiser will be beneficial and appreciated.
One of the first steps in preparing a value estimate is an on-site inspection of the property to be acquired. Property owners will be given the opportunity to accompany the appraiser during this inspection. At this time the property owner should point out any special physical attributes of the property that the owner feels may have a bearing on its value.
In preparing the value estimate, the appraiser cannot consider an increase or decrease in the value of your property which results from the proposal of the roadway improvement project or the likelihood that the property will be acquired for the project.
The final value estimate is reviewed for completeness and accuracy, and the amount of compensation is established by the County. In addition to the estimate of compensation for the land being acquired, the County may make an offer to purchase any remaining property determined to be an "uneconomic remainder" and therefore having little or no remaining economic value to the owner.
The Real Property Officer who calls on you has studied the appraisal of the needed property and can illustrate with maps and other data how the acquisition will affect your property. The County’s offer will be made in writing and will include an Acquisition Summary Statement which details the basis for that amount. The Real Property Officer is unable, under County procedures governing acquisitions, to engage in “horse trading”; rather, the Real Property Officer is confined to those monetary values indicated by the valuation process. However, the County is ready and willing to reconsider its position in light of any new evidence of value presented by you including a documented professional appraisal report.
You need not accept the County’s offer nor enter into an agreement felt to be unfair. A refusal is simply a case of disagreement between the two parties as to the value of the property.
In the event the parties are still unable to agree as to the compensation to be paid, or if you cannot clear the title, a condemnation action will be filed with the Circuit Court of Lane County. Discussions can, of course, continue even after an action is filed. The filing allows the County to proceed with the construction project.
The County cannot take any action which would coerce you into accepting its offer. Prohibited actions include advancing the time of condemnation, deferring negotiations or condemnation, or postponing the deposit of funds in court for your use.
When the County acquires all or a portion of your real property, it also acquires any and all improvements. If buildings are required to be removed, the County may allow the owner to retain the improvements. If you are interested, this can be discussed with the Real Property Officer.
When you sign the purchase agreement and deed, then the transfer of title and payment process will begin. As in a private sale, you are responsible for clearing encumbrances of title, such as unpaid taxes, assessments, mortgages, outstanding leases, and other liens against your property. The Real Property Officer will assist you in clearing title. No payment can be made until a Deed conveying clear title to the County has been recorded.
At the time the deed is available for recording, the County will initiate the payment process to compensate you for your property. Normally when there are no liens or encumbrances against the property, you will receive payment about four weeks.
If condemnation action has been filed, the amount established by the County as Just Compensation will be deposited with the court for distribution in accordance with the order of the court.
You are entitled to be reimbursed for fair and reasonable costs you incur for expenses incidental to conveying your property to the County. Such expenses could be, but are not necessarily limited to, penalty costs for prepayment of any pre-existing recorded mortgage encumbering your property, mortgage release fees, and the County’s portion of prepaid real property taxes.
You are not required to surrender possession of your property until you have been paid the agreed purchase price, or an amount equal to the County’s estimate of Just Compensation has been deposited with the court.
When negotiations begin, you, as well as any tenants occupying your property, will be notified in writing that it is the County’s intent to acquire the portion of the property necessary for the improvement project. If you are required to move, it will not be necessary to vacate your property earlier than 90 days following that notice or less than 30 days after the payment, whichever is later. However, if the purchase does not require you to move, the agreement to purchase your property may require you to surrender possession of your property upon payment.
The County is aware of the need for a reasonable time for relocation. If your property is not needed for several months, your continued occupancy may be permitted on a short-term basis. The amount of rent the County may charge you, or another tenant, may not exceed the fair rental value of the property to a short-term occupier.
You may also be eligible for benefits under the Relocation Assistance Program if you are required to move as a result of the taking of your real property for a public improvement project. Generally, the available benefits include moving allowance, supplemental payment for replacement housing, and rent supplement, if you are eligible. These benefits are fully explained in a separate brochure which is available.
For additional information, please contact:
Lane County Department of Public Works
Right-of-Way Management Section
3040 North Delta Hwy
Eugene, OR 97408-1696
Published by Lane County Public Works Department 2010