Let’s Play Twenty (One) Questions
Knowing local public agency (LPA) responsibilities in acquiring right-of way requires some very specific knowledge.
Here’s a quiz to test yours!
By Lisa Harris, Kansas LTAP
Each year, KDOT and FHWA conduct right-of-way (ROW) acquisition reviews for local public agency projects in each KDOT District. These reviews are performed to ensure compliance with federal rules for acquiring ROW for roadway improvement projects. While we’d like to report that our LPAs passed with flying colors, unfortunately, we cannot. Some agencies who thought they knew the rules for acquiring ROW fell short in a few areas, per Eric Deitcher, ROW specialist for FHWA’s Kansas Division.
KDOT will be working with Kansas LTAP soon to develop more in-depth training on the topic. In the meantime, we worked with Nelda Buckley at KDOT’s Bureau of Local Projects to develop these 21 questions to test your initial knowledge of some aspects of ROW acquisition.
If you prefer to do an open-book test, the best resource to have at your side is Section 6 of the KDOT Bureau of Local Projects’ LPA Project Development Manual. It is available through KDOT’s KART services at kart.ksdot.org.
So, how did you do? Answers are at the end of the article.
True or False?
- All federal-aid projects must comply with the Uniform Act.
- If federal-aid funding is not used for right of way (ROW) purchase, the Uniform Act does not apply.
- As long as the property owner is paid for the ROW, the Uniform Act is met.
- The Uniform Act only applies to purchases of permanent ROW.
- The LPA (City/County) is responsible for following the Uniform Act even if they hire a consultant or if an employee leaves.
- If the LPA has its own ROW processes/procedures/practices, they may be followed instead of the Uniform Act.
- A tenant may sign ROW documents if the property owner is not available.
- Appraisals may be waived if the expected value is less than $10,000 and is a simple acquisition (i.e. strip taking).
- “Just Compensation” is established and approved by the appraiser.
- “Just Compensation” may be more or less than the appraised value.
- The LPA governing body must establish and approve “Just Compensation” prior to making a written offer to the landowner.
- The LPA governing body must approve any amount negotiated above the “Just Compensation” amount.
- The Negotiator’s Log only needs to include the major steps in the Uniform Act process.
- An administrative settlement is a negotiated settlement with the landowner for more than the approved appraisal amount.
- A Uniform Act brochure must be given to each landowner from which ROW will be acquired.
- If the ROW is donated, the landowner must waive their right to an appraisal.
- A review appraisal is required if the value is more than $1,000.
- All ROW payments must be paid before the project is completed.
- Acquisition documents transferring ownership must be recorded at the County Courthouse.
- If the Uniform Act is not followed, federal aid funds may have to be returned even if the project is complete.
- If there are questions about the ROW acquisition process, the County Clerk should be contacted.
How did you do? Check your answers.
- FALSE. If federal aid funding is used for any phase of a project (e.g., construction, construction engineering), then the Uniform Act applies for purchase, even if non-federal funds are used for the ROW purchase.
- FALSE. If the land owner is paid for the ROW but you don’t retain documentation of the entire process, The Uniform Act is not followed. (Note: documentation is where noncompliant agencies in Kansas were most lacking, per the recent audit.)
- FALSE. The Uniform Act also applies to acquiring temporary easements or right of entry for the project, even if donated. Temporary acquisitions also need to be fully documented.
- TRUE. If you experience turnover during the process, you have to have thorough documentation throughout the process to pass onto the next person working on it. Even if you hire a consultant, the LPA is ultimately responsible for complying with the Act.
- FALSE. If federal money is used for any part of the project, the local acquisition practices must be changed to meet the Uniform Act, if they are different from the Act.
- FALSE. The property owner (or official representative) is the only one who can sign ROW documents. An example is a federal building. An agency housed in the building cannot sign for it. In the case of some federal buildings, General Services Administration (GSA) is the proper signee.
- FALSE. “Just Compensation” is established and approved by the LPA’s governing body, not the appraiser.
- FALSE. “Just Compensation” can be higher than the appraised value but not less.
- TRUE, and approval must be documented.
- FALSE. The LPA governing body does not need to approve an amount negotiated above the “Just Compensation” they previously approved.
- FALSE. The Negotiator’s Log needs to include every contact you have with a landowner, with dates, and specific information about what was communicated. This includes communications such as phone calls, emails, and personal visits.
- TRUE, and an administrative settlement must be documented and signed by the negotiator and approved and signed by the LPA officer or designee.)
- TRUE. The LPA must document the date the brochure was given to the landowner and how it was given to them.
- FALSE. Even if a landowner donates the land for permanent or temporary use, they must still be given the option for an appraisal, and if waived it must be documented on the donation form.
- FALSE. A review appraisal (that is, a second opinion by another appraiser) is only required if the original appraisal is more than $10,000.
- FALSE. All payments to the landowner must be made before the LPA takes possession of the property, that is, before any clearing or construction starts on the project.
- TRUE. Official acquisition documents must be filed with, and recorded by, the County’s Office of the Register of Deeds. All other acquisition documents should be kept with the project files.
- FALSE. If there are questions about the ROW acquisition process, contact your KDOT BLP Project Manager or Nelda Buckley at KDOT’s Bureau of Local Projects at (785) 296-0415.
Kansas LTAP Newsletter March-April 2019 issue