AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE "THE COMMISSIONERS OF BELLEFONTE," A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, TO PROVIDE IMPROVEMENTS OF A GENERAL AND PUBLIC NATURE WITHIN "THE COMMISSIONERS OF BELLEFONTE"; TO FINANCE SAID IMPROVEMENTS OUT OF THE GENERAL REVENUES OR BY MEANS OF BOND ISSUES; TO HOLD REFERENDUMS FOR THE APPROVAL OF SAID IMPROVEMENTS WHEN FINANCED BY MEANS OF BOND ISSUES; TO PROVIDE FOR THE ISSUANCE OF SAID BONDS AND THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS THEREOF; TO CREATE SPECIAL FUNDS FROM THE PROCEEDS OF SAID BOND ISSUES; TO PROVIDE FOR THE COLLECTION, BY TAXATION OR SPECIAL ASSESSMENT, OF FUNDS TO PAY THE INTEREST ON SAID BONDS AND FUNDS NECESSARY TO CREATE A SINKING FUND FOR THE REDEMPTION OF SAID BONDS; TO LEVY AND COLLECT SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS AGAINST THE PROPERTIES BENEFITED AND OTHER TAXES; TO ADOPT RULES AND REGULATIONS WITH REFERENCE TO THE AFORESAID IMPROVEMENTS AND TO PRESCRIBE FINES AND PENALTIES FOR THE VIOLATION OF SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS; TO ACCEPT GRANTS AND/OR LOANS FROM OTHER AGENCIES WITH REFERENCE TO THE AFORESAID IMPROVEMENTS AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE REPAYMENT OF SAID LOANS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE EXERCISE OF THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN IN CONNECTION WITH SAID IMPROVEMENTS.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met (two-thirds of all of the Members elected to each House concurring therein):
Section 1. In addition to all of the powers which it may now have, "The Commissioners of Bellefonte," a municipal corporation of the State of Delaware, is hereby authorized and empowered to construct, reconstruct, purchase, lease, repave, remodel, maintain, use and control improvements of a general and public nature within "The Commissioners of Bellefonte," and to purchase, lease, acquire by gift, grant or by any other means whatsoever, real estate or personal property incidental or appurtenant thereto.
Section 2. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the power and authority to finance the construction, reconstruction, purchase, lease, repave, remodeling and maintenance of the aforesaid improvements or of the purchase, condemnation or lease of real estate or personal property incidental or appurtenant thereto out of the revenues of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" from whatever source derived or by means of bond issues. The means of financing in each instance shall be left to the discretion of the Commissioners; provided, however, that when the improvements are financed through the issuance of bonds, the conditions and provisions contained in this Act shall be complied with.
Section 3. Whenever the aforesaid improvements shall be financed through the issuance of bonds, the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall hold a referendum or referendums for the purpose of obtaining the approval of the authorized voters of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" for the aforesaid improvements. The referendum shall be managed and the votes canvassed in such manner as may be prescribed by the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte." The eligible voters in such referendum shall be all of the owners of real estate located within the corporate limit of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte," and each owner of such real estate shall be entitled to one vote. When real estate is owned by tenants by the entirety or by more than one owner as tenants in common or as joint tenants, or as life tenants and remaindermen, each of the tenants by the entirety, tenants in common, joint tenants, or life tenants and remaindermen, shall be entitled to one vote.
Section 4. If a majority of those casting votes at the aforesaid referendum is in favor of the proposed improvement, the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the right, in their discretion, to proceed with the aforesaid improvements at any time within a period of one year from the date of said referendum. Any agreement or commitment entered into by the Commissioners during said one year period with reference to said improvements shall constitute compliance with this requirement to proceed with said improvements, and it shall not be necessary to hold any further referendum in the event that said improvements are not completed within the aforesaid period of one year. If the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall not enter into any agreement or commitment with reference to said improvements during the aforesaid one year period, no action shall be taken thereafter with reference to said improvements, unless a referendum is again held for the particular improvements.
Section 5. The interest rate of said bonds may be fixed by the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" in advance of sale or the bonds may be offered for sale at a rate of interest to be fixed by the successful bidder of said bonds. The said bonds and the income therefrom shall not be subject to state, county or municipal taxation. The reasonable expenses of issuing said bonds shall be deemed an expense connected with the purpose for which said bonds are issued and may be paid by the Commissioners out of the special bond account. The full faith and credit of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall be pledged to the payment of said bonds and the interest thereon.
Section 6. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall advertise said bonds for sale in at least two issues of a newspaper of general circulation in the city of Wilmington, Delaware, inviting bids for the same, which advertisement shall state the total amount of the proposed issue, the denominations' of said bonds, the place and date of opening said bids under which said bonds are to be sold. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" may give notice of the sale of said bonds in such other manner as they may decide. Said bonds may be sold at private sale to the United States of America, or any agency, instrumentality or corporation thereof, at no less than par.
Section 7. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" may, in their discretion, require each bid for said bonds to be accompanied by a certified check in the amount of the bid, and after the bonds are awarded or sold to the successful bidder or bidders, the Commissioners shall return to the unsuccessful bidder or bidders the certified check or checks submitted with the bid or bids.
Section 8. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the right to reject any and all bids, but said bonds, when sold, shall be sold to the person, persons, firm or corporation which, in the judgment of the Commissioners, offers the most advantageous terms.
Section 9. The Commissioners shall direct and effect the preparation and printing of said bonds and shall prescribe the form of said bonds and the coupons for the payment of interest thereto attached. Said bonds shall be signed by the president or president pro tern of the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" and countersigned by the secretary or treasurer of the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte."
Section 10. Said bonds may bear such date or dates, may mature at such time or times from their respective dates, may be payable in such medium of payment, at such place or places, may carry such registration privileges, may be subject to such terms, covenants and conditions as the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" may provide by resolution or resolutions; which resolution or resolutions may be adopted at the same meeting at which they are introduced by a majority of all of the members thereof then in office and may take effect immediately upon adoption.
Section 11. Said bonds bearing the signatures of officers in office on the date of the signing thereof shall be valid and binding obligations, notwithstanding that before the delivery thereof and payment therefor, any or all other persons whose signatures appear thereon shall have ceased to be officers of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte." The validity of said bonds shall not be dependent on or affected by the validity or regularity of any proceedings relating to the construction, reconstruction, purchase, lease, repave, remodeling and maintaining of the improvement for which said bonds are issued. The resolution authorizing said bonds may provide that the bonds shall contain a recital that they are issued pursuant to this Act, which recital shall be conclusive evidence of their validity and of the regularity of their issuance.
Section 12. The money raised by the issuance of bonds shall be held in a special account apart from other town revenues and shall be expended only for the purposes for which said bond issue was authorized; provided, however, that any surplus of funds in said bond account, after the completion of said improvements, in excess of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) shall be refunded pro rata to the property owners whose assessments have furnished the funds for said improvements, however, any excess of funds less than Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) shall revert to the general funds of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" and expended for any other lawful purposes.
Section 13. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" are authorized, and, unless the funds are otherwise provided, are required to levy and collect, by taxation or special assessment, such sums of money as shall be sufficient to pay the interest accruing on said bonds, and are further authorized and empowered to levy and collect, by taxation or special assessment, unless the funds are otherwise provided, such sums as shall be necessary to provide a sinking fund adequate for the redemption of the said bonds at or before their maturity. The taxes for such interest and sinking fund shall be levied and collected in the same manner as are other town taxes, and the special assessments shall be levied and collected as hereafter stated.
Section 14. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the power and authority to fix and impose special assessments upon all properties benefited by the aforesaid improvements. The special assessment shall be fixed at such a rate as the Commissioners shall deem to be fair and equitable in view of the cost of the improvements; and shall be fixed and imposed only in those cases in which a special assessment is an appropriate and equitable means of raising funds in connection with the particular improvements. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall also have the power and authority to increase the tax rate in "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" or to levy additional taxes whenever the Commissioners shall deem it necessary in connection with the aforesaid improvements.
Section 15. Any such special assessment shall be a lien upon the properties upon which it is fixed and imposed from the time that it is fixed and imposed by the Commissioners; and said lien shall have priority over any lien, encumbrance or conveyance made or suffered by the owner of said property after the said special assessment has been fixed and imposed as aforesaid. Said special assessment may be fixed and imposed by the Commissioners by resolution at any regular or special meeting of the Commissioners. It shall be due and payable in accordance with the terms and conditions fixed by the Commissioners; and the Commissioners shall have the power and authority to provide for the payment thereof in installments over a period of years with interest at such rates as the Commissioners shall determine. Upon default in any of the installment payments for a period of thirty (30) days after such installment shall have become due, the Commissioners may cause to be instituted proper proceedings for the enforcement of the lien of said special assessment in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 143, Volume 41, Laws of Delaware. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the power and authority to exempt from the aforesaid special assessments any church property within "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" on which a church is erected and maintained, for so long a period as said church continues to be maintained as a church, and to, the extent of the property on which the church is actually built. The same exemption with the same limitations and conditions may be provided by the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" for property owned by Brandywine Hundred Fire Company No. 1 within "The Commissioners of Bellefonte," property owned by any veterans' organization and maintained for the purposes of a meeting place or social hall by said veterans' organization, and any property owned by "The Commissioners of Bellefonte."
Section 16. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the power and authority to adopt such rules and regulations as the said Commissioners may deem proper with reference to the construction, reconstruction, purchase, lease, repave, remodeling, maintenance, use and control of the aforesaid improvements; and the said Commissioners shall have the power and authority to prescribe fines and penalties for the violation of any such rules and regulations, said fines to be collected in the same mariner as other fines for offenses against the ordinances of the Town are now or may hereafter be collected.
Section 17. The Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the power and authority to accept grants and/or loans of money, labor, materials, equipment or technical assistance from agencies of the federal or state government or from an inter-state or intra-state agency or agencies established by law, to accomplish the purposes of this Act, and may pay the interest and amortization on such loans in the same manner as is authorized elsewhere in this Act for bonds.
Section 18. Whenever "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" cannot agree with the owner or owners of any land, building, franchise, easement, or other property necessary to be taken or used in the construction, reconstruction, purchase, lease, repave, remodeling, or maintenance of any improvement or proposed improvement, the Commissioners of "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" may apply to the Associate Judge of the State of Delaware, resident in the county where any such property necessary to be taken is located, for the condemnation of such property, first giving to the other party or owner at least five days' notice in writing of the intended application if such party or owner is known to be within the State; and if said party or owner is unknown, or without the State, or under legal disability and has no guardian or legal representative in the State, or if said party or owner is known, but his whereabouts are unknown, then such notice shall be published in some newspaper in the county in which said property proposed to be taken is located, at least five days prior to the intended applications, and such publication shall be sufficient notice. Upon application made as aforesaid, the said Associate Judge shall appoint five judicious and impartial freeholders to view the premises or ascertain the easement or franchise, and assess the damages which the owner or owners will sustain by reason of the said construction, reconstruction, purchase, lease, repave, remodeling, or maintenance of said improvements, or the taking of such property. The freeholders shall be sworn or affirmed before some officer authorized to administer oaths or affirmations, before entering on the premises or before ascertaining the easement or franchise, faithfully and impartially to perform the duties assigned them. They shall give ten days' notice, in writing, to the owner or owners of the premises or property so proposed to be condemned, if said owner or owners are known to be within said State, or to their guardians or legal representatives, duly appointed, if within the State, and to the said "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" of the time of their meeting to view the premises or ascertain the easement or franchise; if the owner or owners are unknown or are without the State or under legal disability and have no legal representative in the State, or if said owner or owners are known but their whereabouts are unknown, publication of such last mentioned notice shall be made in some newspaper in the County in which the proceedings were instituted at least ten days prior to the said meeting and such publication shall be sufficient notice thereof. The said condemnation commissioners shall keep a record of their proceedings with their findings and awards and return the same to the Prothonotary of the County in which the said proceedings were instituted; and shall certify their findings and awards to the owner or owners of the property in the same manner as that in which notice of the application for condemnation was given, and to "The Commissioners of Bellefonte." If "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" or any party in interest is dissatisfied with such findings or awards, they may, on application to said Prothonotary within fifteen days after such findings and awards have been made and filed, sue out a writ of ad quod damnum, requiring the Sheriff of said County, in the usual form, to inquire of twelve impartial men of his bailiwick of the damages which will be sustained as aforesaid, and their report shall be final. The said condemnation commissioners or the said jury shall, in assessing the damages aforesaid, take into consideration the benefits and advantages to the owner or owners resulting from the proposed improvement and set off the value of such benefits or advantages against the loss, detriment and disadvantages, which such owner will suffer; provided that in no case shall the amount estimated as and for the benefits and advantages exceed the amount allowed for loss, detriment or disadvantage to such owner. The amount of damages being ascertained, "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" may pay or tender the amount thereof within two months after the same shall have been so ascertained, to the person or persons so entitled thereto, or, if the person or persons so entitled refuse to accept or reside out of or are absent from the county during all or any part of said period of two months, or are unknown or are under legal disability and have no guardian or legal representative appointed within the State, or are known but have no known address within the State, the same may be deposited to their credit in the Farmers' Bank of the State of Delaware, in the county seat of the county wherein such proceedings are instituted, within said time, and thereupon said property may be taken and occupied for the use and purpose for which it was condemned; provided that "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" in its discretion, after it has made application as aforesaid, for the condemnation of the property, may occupy or use such property without delay and the proceedings for the ascertainment of the damages shall proceed as in this section provided, but in the event of such immediate use or occupation as last aforesaid, "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall pay to the owner or owners thereof if within the State or if such owner or owners refuse to accept the amount of damages or are without the County, or are unknown or are under legal disability and have no guardian or legal representative appointed within the State, or are known but have no known address within the State, deposit to his or their credit in the said bank as aforesaid, within ten days after the damages have been ascertained, the amount thereof. The expenses of the assessment by the said condemnation commissioners of the damages shall in all cases be paid by "The Commissioners of Bellefonte." The said judge shall have power to fill any vacancy in any commission and thereafter the commission shall proceed as though no vacancy had occurred.
In addition to the manner of condemnation of property in this section provided, the said "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" shall have the right to condemn any property in this Chapter mentioned for the purposes of this Chapter in the same manner and as fully as any property may be condemned under the provisions of Chapter 55 of the 1935 Revised Code of Delaware. Whenever any property shall be acquired by "The Commissioners of Bellefonte" in any manner, the title of such property shall be in "The Commissioners of Bellefonte."
Section 19. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this chapter shlal be judged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid,' such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall be rendered. This Act shall take effect immediately.
Approved May 10, 1951.