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Section 3: ROW Acquisition Overview

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Process

The acquisition process can be divided into five general phases:

Planning. This phase involves environmental studies and public involvement as well as location and design studies. A new highway may require extensive environmental studies while a minor improvement on an existing road may only require a relatively brief assessment.

Appraisal. This phase deals with appraiser qualifications, appraisal requirements, property evaluations, report formats, review responsibilities, etc.

Negotiation. This phase deals with the LPAs offer to acquire the required property, prompt payment for such property, notices to vacate, retention of improvements, etc. Should negotiations fail, the process moves into eminent domain via condemnation proceedings.

Property Management. This phase deals with disposition of improvements acquired in the purchase of right of way and methods for accomplishing the clearing of right of way.

Relocation. This phase deals with making provisions for the fair and equitable treatment of persons displaced as a result of Federal or Federally-assisted and State programs in order that such persons shall not suffer disproportionate injuries as a result of programs designed for the benefit of the public as a whole.

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Procedure

  1. Pre‑Appraisal Contact - deliver “Informational Notice” to owner. A sample notice is available. During the pre-appraisal contact:
    • Explain agency's interest in acquiring right of way, the protection provided owner by law and procedures to be followed.
    • Inform owner of right to just compensation, extend invitation to owner or representative to accompany the appraiser.
    • Inform the owner that he or she could donate all or part of the needed right of way. A sample full donation form, a sample full donation for temporary construction easement and a sample partial donation form is available.
  2. Inspect proposed right of way for possible environmental contamination or environmentally-sensitive conditions. An Environmental Checklist for LPAs is available for reproduction.
  3. Have parcel appraised and the appraisal reviewed to establish amount of just compensation. The amount offered shall not be less than the approved appraisal or just compensation.
  4. Deliver the written offer (initiation of negotiations) to purchase in an amount not less than the approved appraised value with a copy of the appraisal to the owner and immediately furnish a copy of the offer letter to TxDOT. Sample offer letters for a parcel with improvements and a parcel with no improvements are available. The date of delivery is very important in establishing eligibility for relocation assistance. It is very important that relocation assistance guidelines be followed.
  5. When the offer is accepted, arrange payment and proceed to closing. Notify TxDOT when the deed is signed on each parcel.
  6. File deed in county/city deed records.
  7. Deliver “ Final Offer” letter if negotiations are unsuccessful and offer is not accepted. Language such as the following should be added to the Final Offer Letter: “If this offer is not accepted within ten (10) days from the date of this letter, or an Administrative Settlement request is not received, within 10 days from the date of this letter, it must be considered as having been rejected and the right to submit an Administrative Settlement forfeited, and condemnation proceedings will be instituted for the acquisition of the XXX-acre tract for right of way purposes.” A sample final offer letter, which contains the above language, is available. The Final Offer letter will be mailed by Certified Mail.
  8. Initiate condemnation proceedings should final offer letter be rejected. Notify TxDOT on each parcel as to the date that the transaction was closed or the date that the final judgment was filed in condemnation proceedings on each parcel. In no instance will the county or city intentionally make it necessary for an owner to institute legal proceedings to prove the fact of the taking of his or her real property.
  9. File certified copy of Final Judgment in county/city deed records.
  10. Forward recorded deed(s) and/or recorded Final Judgment(s) to TxDOT.
  11. Have your records in order for the Title III Parcel and Appraisal Review conducted by your local TxDOT District office. See Chapter 9, Records in this Guide for more information.

A ROW Acquisition Flowchart for LPAs is available in PDF format.

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