Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Subtitle II. Powers of Local Government
Chapter 19. Condemnation
12/5/2022

Chapter 19. Condemnation.

§ 15.2-1900. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2007, cc. 882, 901 and 926, cl. 2.

§ 15.2-1901. Condemnation authority.

A. In addition to the authority granted to localities pursuant to any applicable charter provision or other provision of law, whenever a locality is authorized to acquire real or personal property or property interests for a public use, it may do so by exercise of the power of eminent domain, except as provided in subsection B.

B. A locality may acquire property or property interests outside its boundaries by exercise of the power of eminent domain only if such authority is expressly conferred by general law or special act. However, cities and towns shall have the right to acquire property outside their boundaries for the purposes set forth in § 15.2-2109 by exercise of the power of eminent domain. The exercise of such condemnation authority by a city or town shall not be construed to exempt the municipality from the provisions of subsection F of § 56-580.

C. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, no locality shall condition or delay the timely consideration, advancement, or approval of any application for or grant of any permit or other approval for any real property over which it enjoys jurisdiction for the purpose, expressed or implied, of allowing the condemnation or acquisition of the property or to commence any process to consider whether to undertake condemnation or acquisition of the property.

1997, c. 587; 2001, c. 538; 2013, c. 581; 2022, c. 735.

§ 15.2-1901.1. Condemnation by localities authorized.

The governing body of any locality may acquire by condemnation title to (i) land, buildings and structures, (ii) any easement thereover or (iii) any sand, earth, gravel, water or other necessary material for the purpose of opening, constructing, repairing or maintaining a road or for any other authorized public undertaking if the terms of purchase cannot be agreed upon or the owner (a) is unknown, (b) cannot with reasonable diligence be found in the Commonwealth or (c) due to incapacity cannot negotiate an agreement. Condemnation proceedings shall be conducted under the provisions of Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1 insofar as applicable.

Code 1950, § 25-232; 1964, c. 291, § 25-232.01; 1980, c. 559; 1986, c. 117; 2003, c. 940.

§ 15.2-1902. Condemnation proceedings generally.

Except where otherwise authorized by any applicable charter provision, a locality shall exercise the power of eminent domain in the manner, and in accordance with the procedures, set out in Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) or Chapter 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.) of Title 25.1, except that:

1. Only lands or easements for (i) streets and roads, (ii) drainage facilities, (iii) water supply and sewage disposal systems, including pipes and lines, and (iv) water, sewer and governmentally owned gas, electricity, telephone, telegraph and other utility lines and pipes and related facilities, except to the extent otherwise prohibited by law, may be condemned using the procedures in Chapter 3 of Title 25.1, as provided by the applicable provisions of §§ 15.2-1904 and 15.2-1905, because the foregoing enumerated uses are inherently public uses when undertaken by a locality;

2. Existing water and sewage disposal systems in their entirety shall be condemned in accordance with the procedures in § 15.2-1906;

3. Oyster bottoms and grounds may be condemned utilizing the procedures in Chapter 3 of Title 25.1, as required by § 28.2-628; and

4. The provisions of §§ 33.2-1007 through 33.2-1011, 33.2-1014, and 33.2-1017 shall be applicable, mutatis mutandis, with respect to any condemnation by a locality of property for highway purposes.

1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 940; 2012, c. 832.

§ 15.2-1903. Requirements for initiating condemnation; filing of ordinance or resolution with petition; voluntary conveyance.

A. Condemnation proceedings may be instituted when:

1. the locality and owner cannot agree on the compensation to be paid or other terms of purchase or settlement;

2. the owner is legally incapacitated;

3. either the owner or his whereabouts is unknown; or

4. the owner is unable to convey valid title to the property.

B. Prior to initiating condemnation proceedings, the governing body shall, after a public hearing, adopt a resolution or ordinance approving the proposed public use and directing the acquisition of property for the public use by condemnation or other means. The resolution or ordinance shall state the use to which the property shall be put and the necessity therefor. Furthermore, other political subdivisions of the Commonwealth shall also be required to hold a public hearing prior to initiating condemnation proceedings.

C. When a petition for condemnation is filed by or on behalf of the locality, a true copy of the resolution or ordinance duly adopted by the governing body declaring the intended public use of the property, and the necessity therefor, may be filed with the petition, and when so filed constitutes sufficient evidence of such public use and necessity.

D. The fact that no petition has been filed by a locality to condemn any interest conveyed by deed shall not by itself render such conveyance free from the threat of condemnation, nor shall such fact constitute sufficient proof of voluntary conveyance for the purposes of any taxing authority.

1997, c. 587; 2006, c. 927.

§ 15.2-1904. Possession of property prior to condemnation; authority to utilize expedited acquisition procedure conferred.

A. When a condemnation is authorized by § 15.2-1901, a locality may enter upon and take possession of property before the conclusion of condemnation proceedings, using the procedures in Chapter 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.) of Title 25.1, for public purposes of (i) streets and roads, (ii) drainage facilities, (iii) water supply and sewage disposal systems, including pipes and lines, (iv) oyster beds and grounds, and for any of the purposes set out in § 15.2-1901.1. In such proceedings, the procedure may be the same as is prescribed in Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1 or Chapter 3 of Title 25.1. Property may be condemned after the construction of a project, as well as prior thereto. The provisions of Chapter 3 of Title 25.1 shall be used to identify the fund out of which the judgment of the court in condemnation proceedings shall be paid. However, no property of any public service corporation shall be condemned except in accordance with §§ 15.2-1906, 15.2-2146 through 15.2-2148 and 25.1-102.

B. In all other condemnation proceedings authorized by § 15.2-1901, property shall be acquired by condemnation proceedings in accordance with the procedure provided in Chapter 2 of Title 25.1.

C. Before entering and taking possession of any property, the locality shall pay into court or to the clerk thereof, for the property owner's benefit, such sum as the governing body estimates to be the fair value of the property taken and damage, if any, done to the residue. Such payment shall not limit the amount to be allowed under proper proceedings.

D. When a locality enters upon and takes possession of property before the conclusion of condemnation proceedings pursuant to the procedures in Chapter 3 of Title 25.1, a certificate in lieu of payment may be issued by the governing body through its authorized designee, which certificate shall be countersigned by the locality's director of finance or authorized agent for availability of funds.

E. As soon as practicable after the date of payment of the purchase price or the date of deposit into court of funds to satisfy the award of compensation in a condemnation proceeding to acquire real property, whichever is earlier, the locality shall reimburse the property owner, or other person legally obligated to pay the real property taxes, for the pro rata portion of real property taxes paid for the period subsequent to the date of title vesting in the locality or the effective date of possession of the real property by the locality, whichever is earlier.

Code 1950, §§ 15-668.1, 15-668.2; 1954, c. 384; 1958, c. 382; 1960, c. 6; 1962, cc. 494, 511, 623, § 15.1-238; 1964, c. 269; 1979, c. 303; 1983, c. 434; 1989, c. 304; 1990, c. 514; 1997, c. 587; 2003, cc. 680, 940.

§ 15.2-1905. Special provisions for counties.

A. When a county is authorized by subsection A of § 15.2-1904 to use the procedures set forth in Chapter 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.) of Title 25.1, it shall comply either with the requirements of subsection B or subsection C.

B. 1. No property shall be entered upon and taken by any county before the conclusion of condemnation proceedings unless, prior to entering upon and taking possession of such property or right-of-way, the governing body of the county notifies the owners of the property by certified mail, that it intends to enter upon and take the property. Such notice shall be sent by the date specified in the resolution or ordinance required by § 15.2-1903 and shall set forth the compensation and damages offered by the county to each property owner;

2. Any property owner given notice as provided in subdivision 1 may, within 30 days following the sending of the notice, institute a proceeding in the circuit court of the county, wherein the condemnation proceedings are to be instituted, to determine whether such taking is of such necessity as to justify resort to entry upon the property prior to an agreement between the county and the property owner as to compensation and damages to be paid therefor. Any other property owner affected may intervene. The county shall be served notice as provided by law and shall be made a party defendant. The proceedings shall be placed upon the privileged docket of the court and shall take precedence over all other civil matters pending therein and shall be speedily heard and disposed of. The issue in any such proceeding shall be whether the circumstances are such as to justify an entry upon and taking possession by the county of the property involved prior to an agreement or award upon compensation and damages therefor. If the court is of the opinion that no such necessity exists, and that such manner of taking would work an undue hardship upon any such owner, it shall enter an order requiring the county to proceed by methods of condemnation providing for the determination of compensation and damages for property to be taken prior to such taking, if the county deems it necessary to proceed with the project for which the property is sought; and

3. At any time after the giving of the notice as provided in subdivision 1, upon the filing of an application by the landowner to such effect in the court having jurisdiction, and, in any event, within 120 days after the completion of the project for which the entry and taking of possession prior to condemnation was undertaken, if the county and the owner of such property have been unable to agree as to compensation and damages, if any, caused thereby, the county shall institute condemnation proceedings, and the amount of such compensation and damages, if any, awarded to the owner in such proceeding shall be paid by the county. The authorities constructing such project under the authority of this section shall use diligence to protect growing crops and pastures and to prevent damage to any property not taken. So far as possible all rights-of-way shall be acquired or contracted for before any condemnation is resorted to.

C. As an alternative to the procedure set forth in subsection B, any other laws to the contrary notwithstanding, upon the passage of an ordinance or resolution following a public hearing by the board of supervisors of any county declaring its intent to enter and take certain specified properties for any of the purposes set out in subsection A of § 15.2-1904, which ordinance or resolution shall also state the compensation and damages, if any, offered each property owner by the county and declare the necessity to enter upon and take such property prior to or during the condemnation proceedings, the county, for such purposes set forth in the resolution or ordinance, shall be authorized to institute and conduct condemnation proceedings in accordance with the procedure set forth in Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1, except that (i) the county may institute and conduct condemnation proceedings in accordance with the procedure set forth in Chapter 3 (§ 25.1-300 et seq.) of Title 25.1 and (ii) such proceedings shall be instituted by and conducted in the name of the governing body of the county.

Code 1950, §§ 15-668.1, 15-668.2; 1954, c. 384; 1958, c. 382; 1960, c. 6; 1962, cc. 494, 511, 623, § 15.1-238; 1964, c. 269; 1979, c. 303; 1983, c. 434; 1989, c. 304; 1990, c. 514; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 940.

§ 15.2-1906. Condemnation of existing water or sewage disposal systems.

Condemnation of existing water or sewage disposal systems shall be governed by the provisions of Chapter 19.1 (§ 15.2-1908 et seq.) of this title so far as applicable. The provisions of § 25.1-102 shall not apply in the case of condemnation of an existing water or sewage disposal system in its entirety. The circuit court for the city or county wherein the property proposed to be condemned, or any part thereof, is located, shall have jurisdiction of the condemnation proceedings. It shall not be necessary to file with the petition for the condemnation of an existing water or sewage system, in its entirety, a minute inventory and description of the property sought to be condemned, provided the property is described therein generally and with reasonable particularity and in such manner as to disclose the intention of the petitioner that such existing water or sewage system be condemned in its entirety. The court having jurisdiction of the condemnation proceedings shall, as the occasion arises and prior to the filing of the report of the commissioners appointed to determine a just compensation for the property sought to be condemned in its entirety, take such steps as may be necessary and proper to cause to be included in an inventory of the property sought to be condemned full descriptions of any and all such property whenever the exigencies of the case or the ends of justice will be promoted thereby. Such inventory shall be made a part of the record in the proceedings and referred to the commissioners.

Code 1950, § 15-754; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-340; 1997, c. 587; 2003, c. 940.

§ 15.2-1907. Condemnation for water supplies and water lines.

Upon compliance with the applicable provisions of Chapter 2 (§ 25.1-200 et seq.) of Title 25.1, cities and towns may acquire by condemnation any lands or rights-of-way necessary for maintaining, protecting, or providing supplies of water for public use or for laying water pipes, and counties may so acquire such lands or rights-of-way within their borders. Any interest acquired under this section by a county, city or town shall be subject to the provisions of § 25.1-102.

Code 1950, § 25-232; 1964, c. 291, § 25-232.01; 1980, c. 559; 1986, c. 117; 2003, c. 940.

§ 15.2-1907.1. Condemnation of lands for compensatory mitigation of wetlands.

Notwithstanding any other provision of a local government charter or other special act, when authorization is required by federal or state law for any project affecting wetlands and the authorization is conditioned upon compensatory mitigation for adverse impacts to wetlands, no locality or other political subdivision shall acquire through exercise of the power of eminent domain any property to satisfy such condition unless: (i) the property sought to be acquired is located within the same locality as the project affecting wetlands, or (ii) the governing body of the locality where the property sought to be acquired consents to its acquisition for such purpose.

2005, c. 311.