CHAPTER 327

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 17 OF THE DELAWARE CODE BY ADDING THERETO NEW SECTION 132 (b) (8) GIVING THE STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT THE POWER TO PROVIDE RELOCATION ASSISTANCE TO PERSONS DISPLACED AS A RESULT OF THE ACQUISITION FOR HIGHWAY PURPOSES OF REAL PROPERTY UPON WHICH THEY LIVE OR CONDUCT A BUSINESS OR FARM OPERATION AND BY ADDING THERETO NEW CHAPTER 19, SECTIONS 1901-1912 ENTITLED RELOCATION ASSISTANCE.

WHEREAS, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 establishes a new program of highway relocation assistance; and

WHEREAS, the declared purpose of this program is to insure that a few individuals do not suffer disproportionate injuries as a result of a displacement caused by a Federal highway program; and

WHEREAS, continuing eligibility of the State of Delaware for Federal-aid highway funds is made contingent upon compliance with the terms and provisions of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly hereby finds and declares that it is in the public interest that persons displaced by the construction of highways, whether Federally financed or not, be fairly compensated for the property acquired and inconvenience suffered as the result of programs designed for the benefit of the public as a whole; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly hereby further finds and declares that relocation assistance and assistance in the acquisition of replacement housing are proper costs of the construction of highways;

NOW, THEREFORE,

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

Section 1. Chapter 1 of Title 17 of the Delaware Code, is hereby amended by adding thereto new Section 132 (b) (8) as follows:

§ 132. General powers and duties (b) The Department shall —

(8) Provide relocation assistance to persons displaced as a result of the acquisition for highway purposes of real property upon which they live or conduct a business or farm operation in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 19 of this Title.

Section 2. Title 17 of the Delaware Code, is hereby amended by adding thereto a new Chapter 19 dealing with relocation assistance as follows:

CHAPTER 19. RELOCATION ASSISTANCE

§ 1901. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(a) "Person" means —

(1) Any individual, partnership, corporation or association which is the owner of a business;

(2) Any owner, part-owner, tenant, or sharecropper who operates a farm;

(3) An individual who is the head of a family; or

(4) An individual not a member of a family.

(b) "Family" means two or more individuals living together in the same dwelling unit who are related to each other by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal guardianship.

(c) "Displaced person" means any person who moves from real property on or after the effective date of this chapter as a result of the acquisition or reasonable expectation of acquisition of such real property, which is subsequently acquired, in whole or in part, for highway purposes, or as a result of the acquisition for highway purposes of other real property on which such person conducts a business or farm operation.

(d) "Business" means any lawful activity conducted primarily:

(1) For the purchase and resale, manufacture, processing, or marketing of products, commodities, or any other personal property;

(2) For the sale of services to the public; or

(3) By a non-profit organization.

(e) "Farm operation" means any activity conducted solely or primarily for the production of one or more agricultural products or commodities for sale and home use and customarily producing such products or commodities in sufficient quantity to be capable of contributing materially to the operator's support.

(f) "Department" means the State Highway Department of the State of Delaware, or the board, body, commission or authority succeeding to the principal functions thereof and to whom the powers given by this chapter to the Department shall be given by law.

(g) "Director" means the Director of Operations of the State Highway Department of the State of Delaware.

§ 1902. Relocation payments

(a) Upon application approved by the Director, a person displaced by any highway project may elect to receive actual reasonable expenses in moving himself, his family, his business or his farm operation, including personal property.

(b) In lieu of the payments authorized by subsection (a) of this section, any displaced person who moves from a dwelling may elect to receive —

(1) A moving expense allowance, determined according to a schedule established by the Department; and

(2) A fixed dislocation allowance in an amount to be determined by the Department.

(c) In lieu of the payments authorized by subsection (a) of this section, and subject to the limitations of subsections (d) and (e), any displaced person who moves or discontinues his business or farm operation may elect to receive a fixed relocation payment in an amount equal to the average net earnings of the business or farm operation, or a fixed amount to be determined by the Department, whichever is lesser.

(d) In the case of a business under subsection (c), no payments shall be made unless the Director is satisfied that the business (1) cannot be relocated without a substantial loss of its existing patronage; and (2) is not part of a commercial enterprise having at least one other establishment, not being acquired by the State or by the United States, which is engaged in the same or similar business.

(e) For purposes of subsection (c), the term "average annual net earnings" means one-half of any net earnings of the business or farm operation, before Federal, State, and local income taxes during the two taxable years immediately preceding the taxable year in which such business or farm operation moves from the real property, and includes any compensation paid by the business or farm, operation to the owner, his spouse, or his dependents during such two-year period. To be eligible for the payment authorized by subsection (c), the business or farm operation must make its State income tax return, its financial statements and its accounting records available for the confidential use of the Director in determining the proper amount of said payment.

§ 1903. Replacement housing

(a) In addition to amounts otherwise authorized by this chapter, the Department shall make a payment to the owner of real property acquired for a highway project which is improved by a single, two-, or three-family dwelling actually owned and occupied by the owner for not less than one year prior to the initiation of negotiations for the acquisition of such property. Such payment, not to exceed a fixed amount to be determined by the Department, shall be the amount, if any, which, when added to the acquisition payment, equals the average price required for a comparable dwelling determined in accordance with standards established by the Department to be a decent, safe and sanitary dwelling adequate to accommodate the displaced owner, reasonable accessible to public services and places of employment and available on the private market. Such payment shall be made only to a displaced owner who purchases and occupies a dwelling within one year subsequent to the date on which he is required to move from the dwelling acquired for the project.

(b) In addition to amounts otherwise authorized by this chapter, the Department shall make a payment to any individual or family displaced from any dwelling, not eligible to receive a payment under subsection (a) of this section, which dwelling was actually and lawfully occupied by such individual or family for not less than 90 days prior to the initiation of negotiations for acquisition of such property. Such payment, not to exceed a fixed amount to be determined by the Department, shall be the amount which is necessary to enable such person to lease or rent for a period not to exceed two years, or to enable such person to make the down payment on the purchase of a decent, safe and sanitary dwelling of standards adequate to accommodate such individual or family in areas not generally less desirable in regard to public utilities and public and commercial facilities.

§ 1904. Maximum Federal participation

In determining the amounts to be paid under Sections 1902 and 1903 of this chapter, the Department shall provide payments which will assure maximum Federal participation in Federally assisted highway projects.

§ 1905. Expenses incidental to transfer of property

In addition to amounts otherwise authorized by this chapter, the Department shall reimburse the owner of real property acquired for a project for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for (1) recording fees, transfer taxes, and similar expenses incidental to conveying such property; (2) penalty costs for prepayment of any mortgage entered into in good faith encumbering such real property if such mortgage is on record or has been filed of record as provided by law on the date of final approval by the Department of the location of such project; and (3) the pro rata portion of real property taxes paid which are allocable to a period subsequent to the date of vesting of title in the State of Delaware, or the effective date of the possession of such real property by the State of Delaware, whichever is earlier.

§ 1906. Relocation services

(a) The Department shall provide a relocation advisory assistance program which shall include such measures, facilities, or services as may be necessary or appropriate in order to —

(1) Determine the needs, if any, of displaced families, individuals, business concerns and farm operations for relocation assistance;

(2) Assure that, within a reasonable time, prior to displacement there will be available to the extent that can reasonable be accomplished in areas not generally less desirable in regard to public utilities and public and commercial facilities and at rents or prices within the financial means of the families and individuals displaced, housing meeting the standards established by the Department for decent, safe and sanitary dwellings, equal in number of and available to such displaced families and individuals and reasonably accessible to their places of employment;

(3) Assist owners of displaced businesses and displaced farm operators in obtaining and becoming established in suitable locations;

(4) Supply information on other programs of this State or the Federal government offering assistance to displaced persons.

(b) In providing such assistance, the Department may establish local relocation advisory assistance offices to assist individuals, families and business which must relocate because of the acquisition of right-of-way for any highway project.

§ 1907. Administration

In order to prevent unnecessary expenses and duplication of functions, the Department may make relocation payments or provide relocation assistance or otherwise carry out the functions required under this law by utilizing the facilities, personnel, and services of any other Federal, State or local governmental agency having an established organization for conducting relocation assistance programs.

§ 1908. Supervision by Department; Rules and Regulations

(a) The Department shall have the power and it shall be its duty to exercise general supervision over the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this chapter, and it shall adopt such rules and regulations consistent with the provisions of this chapter as it deems necessary or appropriate to carry out those provisions and which will assure maximum Federal participation in Federally assisted highway projects.

(b) Such rules and regulations that the Department shall adopt under subsection (a) hereof shall include, but not be limited to, provisions relating to:

(1) Payments authorized by this chapter to assure that such payments shall be fair and reasonable and as uniform as practicable;

(2) Prompt payment after a move to displaced persons who make proper application for a payment authorized for such persons by this chapter and are entitled to payment, or, in hardship cases, payment in advance;

(3) A schedule of moving expense allowances as provided in Section 1902 (b) (1) of this chapter and the maximum amounts payable under Section 1902 (b) (1) and (2), Section 1902 (c) and Section 1903 (a) and (b);

(4) Standards for decent, safe and sanitary dwellings;

(5) Eligibility of displaced persons for relocation assistance payments, the procedure for such persons to claim such payments and the amounts thereof; and

(0) Procedure for any person aggrieved by a determination as to eligibility for a payment authorized by this chapter, or the amount of a payment, to have his application reviewed by the Director of Operations, whose decision shall be final and not subject to further appeal.

(c) The Department is further authorized within the limits of funds and appropriations therefor, to take such additional action as may be required to fully qualify the Department for any financial Federal aid assistance available for carrying out the purposes for which the Department was created.

§ 1909. Payments not income or resources

No payment received by a displaced person under this chapter shall be considered as income or resources for the purpose of determining the eligibility or extent of eligibility of any person for assistance under State law or for the purposes of the Delaware State Income or Corporation Income Tax. Such payments shall not be considered as income or resources to any recipient of the public assistance under the provisions of Title 31 of the Delaware Code, and such payments shall not be deducted from the amount of aid to which the recipient would otherwise be entitled.

§ 1910. Damages

Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed as creating in any condemnation proceeding brought under the power of eminent domain any element of damages not in existence on the effective date of this chapter, and the payments authorized by this chapter are to be in addition to the just compensation established in such proceedings, but only to the extent they are not otherwise included in the condemnation award.

§ 1911. Maximum amount

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the maximum amount payable hereunder to any displaced person shall be $25,000 except in any case where an additional sum is required in order to qualify the Department to receive Federal financial assistance, in which case the full amount required by Federal law shall be paid.

§ 1912. Severability

If any provision, clause or phrase of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is adjudged invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall not invalidate the remainder of this chapter, and the application thereof to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Section 3. This Act shall become effective on July 1, 1970.

Approved February 9, 1970.