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Section 6: Special Appraisal Situations

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Irrigation and Drainage Canals

A canal, as defined here, means any open ditch or pipe facility carrying non-potable water for irrigation or drainage purposes. When ROW is required for canal adjustments, such acquisition is handled according to how ownership is held and the physical canal orientation with respect to the highway. Ownership is held either publicly or privately. Canal orientation is either perpendicular or parallel to the highway.

For publicly-owned canals, adjustments are handled similar to utility adjustments. Facilities should be identified as either crossing (perpendicular to the highway) or longitudinal (parallel to the highway). Real property costs will be handled as ROW expenses.

For privately-held canals, handling of costs should follow the real property acquisition process. Facilities should be identified as either crossing (perpendicular to the highway) or longitudinal (parallel to the highway). Real property costs shall be handled through the appraisal process as part of the ROW acquisition parcel.

Additional policies and procedures regarding the removal, relocation, or adjustment of irrigation and drainage canal facilities are in TxDOT’s Utility Manual. Procedures for appraising canals in private ownership are included in TxDOT’s Appraisal and Review Manual.

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Private Utility Lines

Private gas, water, sewer, telecommunication, or other utility lines may be handled in the same manner as canals. Refer to both TxDOT’s Appraisal and Review Manual and Utility Manual.

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Acquisition of TxDOT Employees’ Property (with State Participation)

When property owned by TxDOT employees or officials is required for ROW, standard procedures are followed in appraising, securing approved values, and offering to negotiate. However, to prevent unjust accusation of collusion, it is preferred that such employees and officials refuse to negotiate. Thereby, proper compensation is determined through condemnation proceedings, as set forth in Minute Order No. 43775. The minute order was designed to discourage anyone within TxDOT from speculating on ROW.

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Administrative Settlements

An administrative settlement is any settlement, initiated by the property owner, made or authorized by the responsible acquiring agency, before initiating the ED process, which exceeds the agency’s approved value. Use of an administrative settlement can enhance negotiations and reduce the number of ED actions.

On LPA acquisition projects with TxDOT reimbursement, an LPA may make a settlement if an agreement cannot be reached on the approved value. TxDOT will not participate in the settlement (the amount above the approved value) unless the proposed settlement is submitted to the District and approved under TxDOT’s administrative settlement procedures. Refer to TxDOT’s Right of Way Manual, Volume 2, Chapter 5, Section 33.

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Procedures for Receiving Donations

After being informed of the right to receive just compensation for their property interest, an owner may donate his interest, in whole or in part. The LPA must obtain an appraisal of the property, unless the property owner releases the LPA from this obligation. Sample full donation (for fee simple and for a temporary construction easement) and partial donation form letters are available.

If negotiations result in a ROW donation, LPA files must document supporting circumstances. See TxDOT’s Right of Way Manual, Volume 2, Chapter 6, Section 4 for suggestions about documentation.

For local participation projects in which ROW acquisition is funded partially by an LPA and partially by TxDOT, the LPA should obtain all donations in its name and not in TxDOT’s name. Therefore, standard acquisition forms that identify the State of Texas as grantee must not be used, and the deed must identify the LPA as the grantee. When partial acquisitions for controlled access facilities are involved, a new deed form, Form ROW-N-24 , Donation Deed (Controlled Access Highway Facility) – LPA , has been developed for use by LPAs. An example ROW-N-24 is available.

Should the acquisition not involve a controlled access highway facility, the LPA should use Form ROW-N-25, Donation Deed –LPA. An example ROW-N-25 is available.

After the LPA acquires clear title in its name, acceptable to TxDOT, it will deed the property to TxDOT, and the deed will not require a minute order or donation agreement. LPAs should be informed of this procedure before execution of the contractual agreement for ROW acquisition between TxDOT and the LPA.

For LPA Farm-to-Market (FM) projects in which no TxDOT money is used for ROW acquisition, but the ROW is obtained in the name of the State of Texas, the procedure for donated parcels will be the same as in the preceding paragraph.

If the LPA suspects that donated property is environmentally contaminated, it should obtain right of entry from the property owner to investigate contamination prior to accepting the donation. Use the Environmental Checklist for LPAs form.

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