CHAPTER 188

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 39, TITLE 7, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS BY REPEALING SAID CHAPTER AND SUBSTITUTING A NEW CHAPTER 39 IN LIEU THEREOF.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. Chapter 39, Title 7, Delaware Code, is hereby repealed.

Section 2. A new Section 39, Title 7, Delaware Code, is hereby enacted to read as follows:

§ 3901. Declaration of policy

It is the policy of the State of Delaware to provide for the saving of the productive power of Delaware land and water by conserving soil and preventing and controlled all phases of soil and land erosion, by preventing and controlling floodwater and sediment damages, and by furthering the conservation, protection, development, and utilization of land and water resources, including the disposal of water, and thereby to preserve natural resources and promote their beneficial use, control floods, prevent impairment of dams and reservoirs, assist in maintaining the navigability of rivers and harbors, preserve wildlife, provide recreation development, protect the tax base, protect public lands and highways, and protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the people of this State.

§ 3902. Definitions

For the purpose of this chapter, unless otherwise specifically defined, or another intention clearly appears, or the context requires a different meaning--

"Board of District Supervisors" or "board" means the governing body of a soil and water conservation district, elected or appointed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter;

"Landowner" or "owner of land" means and includes any person, firm or corporation who shall hold title to any land in this State;

"Soil and Water Conservation District" or "district" means a governmental subdivision of this State, the boundaries of which coincide with county boundaries, and having the powers and duties prescribed by this chapter, as herein amended;

"Delaware Soil and Water Conservation Commission" or "Commission" means the agency responsible for the administration of soil and water conservation districts in Delaware, with the powers and duties prescribed by this chapter, as herein amended;

"Farmer" means any person holding legal title to a farm and being actively engaged in farming operations.

§ 3903. Continuation of Commission and Districts

(d) The State Soil Conservation Commission created by Act of April 2, 1943, shall hereafter be known as the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation Commission, and shall continue to carry out the powers and duties prescribed for it by this chapter, as herein amended.

(e) The three soil conservation districts heretofore created under this chapter (herein repealed) shall hereafter be known as the Kent Soil and Water Conservation District, the New Castle Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Sussex Soil and Water Conservation District, respectively, and the said districts shall continue to exercise all the powers and duties prescribed for districts by this chapter, as herein amended.

§ 3904. Delaware Soil and Water Conservation Commission; Composition; Term

(a) The Commission shall be composed of the Dean of the School of Agriculture of the University of Delaware and six members appointed by the Governor of Delaware in the manner hereinafter provided, and the vote and authority of each of said seven members shall be equal.

(b) At least three of the appointed members shall be farmers, one to be appointed from New Castle County, one from Kent County, and one from Sussex County. The remaining three appointed members may be non-farmers, one to be appointed from New Castle County, one from Kent County and one from Sussex County. The term of office of each commissioner shall be three years, beginning on the first day of July in the year of appointment, except that the first terms of the three members who are not required to be farmers shall be for terms of one year, two years and three years, respectively. The appointments shall be made so that no two members from any County shall have simultaneous terms of office, and the two appointed members within each County shall not belong to the same political party. The farmer members now serving on the Commission shall serve until the expiration of their term of office, and their successors shall be appointed for a regular term of three years. Any commissioner shall be eligible to succeed himself. A member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of his term shall be appointed for the unexpired portion of such term. A commission member shall hold office until his successor has been appointed and duly qualified.

(c) The Commission may invite the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America to appoint one person to serve with the Commission in an advisory capacity.

§ 3905. Organization of Commission; Quorum; Expense of Members

The Commission shall designate by election one of its members to serve as chairman, and may, from time to time, change such designation by the same means. The Commission may also appoint a secretary. A majority of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but the concurrence of a majority of the Commission as a whole on any matter within its duties shall be required for its determination, except as the Commission may invest any of its members with power to determine specified matters or to perform routine duties. Each member of the Commission shall be entitled to expenses, including travel expenses, necessarily incurred in the discharge of his duties as a member of this Commission.

§ 3906. General Powers and Duties of Commission

(a) The Commission shall--

(1) Formulate policies and general programs to be carried out by the Commission and by soil and water conservation districts for the prevention of erosion, floodwater and sediment damages and for the conservation, protection, development, and utilization of the State's soil and water resources, including the disposal of water;

(2) Exercise overall responsibility for administration and direction of the programs of the districts;

(3) Advise and assist any district in developing and carrying out its program for the prevention of erosion, floodwater and sediment damages, and the conservation, protection, development, and utilization of soil and water resources, including the disposal of water.

(4) Cooperate with and give such other assistance, financial and otherwise, as the Commission may judge to be useful to any district in the exercise of its powers and performance of its duties, including the entering into of such agreements as may be appropriate with such district, with landowners, and with other State, Federal, or local agencies, subject to such conditions as the Commission deems necessary to advance the purposes of this Chapter;

(5) Receive and allocate or otherwise expend any funds appropriated by the Legislature of this State, or received from any other source, for the use or benefit of the Commission or of the districts;

(6) Be the administrative agency to represent this State in all matters arising from the provisions of this chapter;

(7) Keep a full and accurate record of all its proceedings and of all its resolution, regulations, and orders issued or adopted;

(8) Make an annual audit of all its accounts of receipts and disbursements;

(9) Formulate and establish rules and procedures for conducting elections of district supervisors, and for conducting all other local referendums which may from time to time become necessary in order to give landowners an opportunity to reach majority conclusions with respect to the programs of the district;

(0) Make such other rules and regulations as it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter; and

(1) Make and execute contracts and other instruments, necessary or convenient to the exercise of its powers, with any Federal, State, or local agency, or with any person.

(b) In addition to the above powers, and any other powers granted in other sections of this chapter, the Commission may--

(1) Appoint such employees as it requires, within the limits of available funds, and determine their qualifications, duties and compensation;

(2) Call upon the Attorney General of the State for such legal services as it requires;

(3) Conduct surveys, investigations and research relating to erosion, floodwater and sediment damages, and to the conservation, protection, development, and utilization of land and water resources, including disposal of water, and the prevention and control measures and works of improvement needed; publish the results of such surveys, investigations and research; disseminate information concerning such preventive and control measures and works of improvement; except that any agricultural research shall be in cooperation with the Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station;

(0) Develop comprehensive plans for, and carry out, preventive and control measures and works of improvement for the prevention of erosion, floodwater and sediment damages and for the conservation, protection, development, and utilization of land and water resources, including the disposal of water;

(5) Obtain or accept the cooperation and financial, technical or material assistance of the United States or any of its agencies, and of this State or any of its agencies or sub-divisions, or from any other source, for use in carrying out the functions of the Commission under this Act;

(6) Obtain options upon and acquire by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, grant, bequest, devise, or otherwise any property, real or personal, or rights or interests therein; maintain, administer, and improve any properties acquired; receive income from such properties and expend such income in carrying out the purposes and provisions of this chapter; and sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of any of its real or personal property or interests therein, in furtherance of the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including conveyances, with or without consideration, of lands or interests therein to soil and water conservation districts for use in carrying out their authorized purposes;

(7) Construct, improve, operate, and maintain such structures as may be necessary or convenient for the performance of any of the functions authorized in this act, and also, with the prior approval and agreement of the State Highway Department, which under Title 17, Section 131, of the Delaware Code, has responsibility for the absolute care, management and control of public roads, causeways, highways and bridges in the State, construct, improve, protect, or repair public roads, causeways, highways, or bridges in those cases where other works of improvement authorized in this Act affect such roads, causeways, highways or bridges;

(8) Cooperate, or enter into agreements with, and within the limits of available appropriations or other funds, furnish financial or other aid to any agency, governmental or otherwise, or any landowner, in the carrying out of operations authorized by this chapter, subject to such conditions as the Commission may deem necessary to advance the purposes of this chapter; and

§ 3907. Board of District Supervisors; Composition; Term

(a) The Board of District Supervisors shall consist of:

(1) four farmers resident within the County and elected by a majority vote of landowners voting under rules and procedures formulated by the Commission;

(2) the chairman of the County Levy Court;

(3) a non-farmer member, to be appointed by the Commission for a term of three years, upon the request of the District involved; and

(4) the County Agricultural Extension Agent, who shall serve as secretary to the board, but with no authority to vote. The vote and authority of each other member of the board shall be equal.

(b) The term of office of the elected supervisors shall be four years. Present elected supervisors shall continue to serve until their present terms expire. Any supervisor will be eligible to succeed himself. The Commission may fill any vacancy, occurring otherwise than by expiration of term, by appointment of a qualified individual to serve the remainder of the unexpired term. A district supervisor shall hold office until his successor has been appointed and elected and duly qualified.

§ 3908. Organization of Board; Quorum; Expenses of District Supervisors

The Board of District Supervisors annually shall designate by election one of its members to be its chairman, and shall designate future chairmen by the same means. A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum, but the concurrence of a majority of the entire board on any matter within its duties shall be required for its determination, except as the board may invest any of its supervisors with power to determine specified matters or to perform routine duties. The board shall be authorized, in its discretion, to reimburse supervisors for their expenses, including travel expenses, necessarily incurred in the discharge of their duties as members of the board.

Any district supervisor may be removed from office by the Commission, upon notice and hearing, for neglect of duty or misconduct, but for no other reason.

§ 3909. Soil and Water Conservation District; Governmental Subdivision; Powers

(a) A soil and water conservation district organized under the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a governmental subdivision of this State, and such district, and the board of supervisors thereof, shall have authority to exercise the following powers, in addition to others granted in other sections of this chapter, subject to the responsibility of the Commission for the administration and direction of the programs of the districts:

(1) To develop comprehensive plans for, and carry out, preventive and control measures and works of improvement for the prevention of erosion, floodwater and sediment damages, and the conservation, development, and utilization of land and water resources, including the disposal of water, within the district:

(2) To conduct, in cooperation with the Commission, surveys, investigations, and research relating to the prevention of erosion, floodwater and sediment damages, and the conservation, protection, development, and utilization of land and water resources, including the disposal of water;

(3) To cooperate or enter into agreements with, and, within the limits of appropriations or other funds duly made available to it by law, to provide aid to any agency, governmental or otherwise, or any landowner within the district, in carrying out the program of the district, subject to such conditions as the board may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter;

(4) To make available, on such terms as the board shall prescribe, to any landowners within the district, through existing agencies if agreements with them seem feasible, or by such other means as the board shall prescribe, such services, materials and equipment as will assist such landowners to carry on operations for any of the purposes of this chapter;

(5) To construct, improve, operate and maintain such structures as may be necessary or convenient for the performance of any of the operations authorized in this chapter;

(6) To obtain options upon and acquire by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, grant, bequest, devise, or otherwise, any property, real or personal, or rights or interests therein; to maintain, administer, and improve any properties acquired; to receive income from such properties and expend such income in carrying out the purposes and provisions of this chapter; and to sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of any of its real or personal property or interests therein, in furtherance of the purposes of the district;

(7) To accept the cooperation of, and financial, technical and material assistance from, the United States or any of its agencies, or from this State or any of its agencies or subdivisions, or from any other source, for use in carrying. out the purposes of the district; and

(8) To sue and be sued in the name of the district; to make and execute contracts and other legal instruments, necessary or convenient to the exercise of its powers, with any Federal, State, or local agency, or with any person; and to receive and expend funds.

§ 3910. Cooperation

Any two or more soil and water conservation districts organized under the provisions of this chapter may cooperate with one another or with the State or any agency or subdivision thereof in the exercise of all powers conferred upon such districts or any or all duties prescribed for such districts by this chapter.

Approved December 18, 1963.