OF ROADS AND BRIDGES.
AN ACT Concerning Public Roads and Bridges.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly met:
Section 1. The Resident Associate Judge of this State within each county shall have jurisdiction to lay out public roads and bridges and to widen, change or vacate the same.
Section 2. Before any property, ground, sand, earth, gravel, stone or other road materials shall be taken or occupied for the purpose of extending, widening, changing, vacating, straightening, laying out or opening, building, improving or repairing any public road or bridge under the provisions of this act, the owner or owners of such property, ground or material shall be paid or tendered such damages as they shall respectively be entitled to receive, which damages shall be assessed as follows, viz:
First: Five or more freeholders of the county or the President of the Levy Court of the County upon resolution of said Court may apply to the Resident Judge of the County where the property, ground or road materials desired to be taken are located, first giving all parties in interest or their legal representatives at least five days' notice in writing of the intended application if they be within the State and under no legal disability to receive the same; and if any owner or party in interest be unknown or without the State or under legal disability to receive such notice, and having no legal representatives within the State, then such notice shall be published in some newspaper of the county in which such property, ground or material proposed to be taken is located at least five days previous to the intended application and the Resident Associate Judge shall appoint five judicious and impartial freeholders of the County to view the premises and material and make return on a day fixed by such Resident Associate Judge, authorizing the freeholders so appointed to employ if necessary a surveyor, and directing freeholders them, First, in an order on a petition for a new public road or bridge that if they judge such road or bridge necessary they shall lay it out in the best way, having respect to the nature of the ground, the distance and other circumstances of public or private convenience or detriment, and shall make a map of such road showing its courses and distances, the woodland and cleared land through which it passes and other proper notes, and shall compute the cost of opening and making such road and of making the bridges and causeway therein separately, and shall make said map and computation of costs and also their determination that such road is needed for public convenience, part of their return.
Second: In an order made on a petition for changing the course or width of a public road, the direction shall be, that if they judge the changes asked for or any change of like effect proper, then they shall lay out such road as will produce such change in the best way, having respect as aforesaid; and shall make a map as aforesaid showing the change, and shall determine what part of the old road shall be vacated on opening the new, and who shall enclose the same, all of which shall be set out in the return.
Third: In an order made out on a petition for vacating a public road or any part thereof, the direction shall be that if they judge such public road or any part of it to be unnecessary, and that it ought to be vacated, they shall determine who shall enclose the same or any part thereof, and what portion of the costs such persons ought to pay respectively, all of which shall be set out in the return.
Fourth: In an order made out on a petition for taking any sand, earth, gravel, stone or other material to be used in building or repairing a public road or bridge, the direction shall be that if they judge such material necessary for the building of such road or bridge, they shall describe the ground from which said material may be taken, and shall determine the terms upon which and the time within which such material may be taken.
Fifth: -In all cases they shall assess the damages which the owner or owners or other parties, in interest will sustain by reason of such road or bridge, or the use of such road material, considering all circumstances of benefit or injury, which may accrue to such owner or other party in interest therefrom.
Sixth: In an order made out on a petition for a temporary right of way to be used in conjunction with building a public road or bridge, the direction shall be that if they judge such right of way necessary, they shall lay out the same, and shall make a map as aforesaid, showing such right of way, and shall determine the terms upon which said right of way shall be used, and the time and conditions within and upon which it shall be returned to the owner thereof.
The freeholders named in such commission shall be first sworn or affirmed as in said commission shall be directed, and the return of such commissioners shall be made to the said Resident Associate Judge who shall file the same in the office of the Clerk of the Peace.
Section 3. The return upon one commission shall not be conclusive, but upon application by any party in interest or by President of the Levy Court of the County upon resolution of said Court within fifteen days after the filing of such return, the Judge shall issue a commission of review appointing five other freeholders as aforesaid with like instructions as were contained in the first commission, provided that if a review be granted upon the application of a person or persons interested, the review shall extend only to the assessment of damages made in respect to the person or persons making such application. If the return to a commission of review varies in the damages assessed from the return to the original commission, the Judge shall grant a second commission of review upon the application of the President of the Levy Court of the county upon resolution of said Court, or of any person interested in the return to the commission of review within ten days after the filing of such return. If a review be not applied for in due time, the return to the original commission shall be conclusive as to the amount of damages. If the return to any two commissions correspond as to the amount of damages, such amount shall be conclusive, but if there be more than one return and none conclusive under the foregoing provisions, the Judge shall confirm such one of them as he shall deem most just, and the return so confirmed be conclusive.
The Judge may set aside a return to a commission for gross inequality or inequity, in which case he shall issue another commission in its place, and the Judge shall have power to fill any vacancy in a commission. There shall be allowed to the Commissioners for their services Three Dollars ($3.00) per day.
Section 4. The amount of damages being so ascertained, the Levy Court of the County, the duly authorized officers of the State or any person interested may pay or tender the same to the person or persons entitled thereto within two calendar months after the same shall have been finally ascertained, or if the person or persons so entitled reside out of or are absent from the county during all or any part of said period of two months, then the same may be deposited to his or her credit in the Farmers Bank of Delaware, at the county seat of the county wherein such proceedings are instituted within said time, and thereupon the said property, ground or material may be taken or occupied for the use aforesaid.
Section 5. Whenever damages shall have been assessed to any owner or owners of property for the extending, widening, changing, vacating, straightening or laying out or opening, building, improving or repairing of any public road or bridge or for any road material and the Levy Court of the County, duly authorized officers of the State or persons interested shall omit or neglect to pay or tender the amount of certain damages to the person or persons entitled to the same, or to deposit the same in the manner and within the time herein provided for such payment or tender or deposit, no further application or proceeding shall be made or had for the extending, widening, changing, vacating, straightening, laying out or opening of said public road or bridge through or upon the same land or premises for which said damages were assessed until after the expiration of two years from and after the said assessment.
Section 6. Whenever the Levy Court of the county, duly authorized officers of the State or five or more freeholders of the County shall deem it necessary to take any turnpike road within the limits of the county for the purpose of converting the same into a public road, the same may be done under the provisions of this Act, and the methods of procedure in such case shall be made as near as may be convenient to laying out a new public road.
Section 7. That Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of Chapter 60 of the Revised Code of the State of Delaware, be and the same are hereby repealed.
Section 8. That all acts or parts of acts inconsistent with this act be and the same are hereby repealed.
Approved March 7, A. D. 1911.