A. The Commissioner of Highways is vested with the power to acquire by purchase, gift, or power of eminent domain such lands, structures, rights-of-way, franchises, easements, and other interest in lands, including lands under water and riparian rights, of any person, association, partnership, corporation, or municipality or political subdivision, deemed necessary for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, maintenance, and repair of the public highways of the Commonwealth and for these purposes and all other purposes incidental thereto may condemn property in fee simple and rights-of-way of such width and on such routes and grades and locations as the Commissioner of Highways may deem requisite and suitable, including locations for permanent, temporary, continuous, periodical, or future use and rights or easements incidental thereto and lands, quarries, and locations, with rights of ingress and egress, containing gravel, clay, sand, stone, rock, timber, and any other road materials deemed useful or necessary in carrying out the purposes of this subsection.
B. The Commissioner of Highways is authorized to exercise the power provided under subsection A within municipalities on projects that are constructed with state or federal participation if requested by the municipality concerned. Whenever the Commissioner of Highways has acquired property pursuant to a request of the municipality, he shall convey the title so acquired to the municipality, except that rights-of-way or easements acquired for the relocation of a railroad, public utility company, or public service corporation or company, another political subdivision, or a cable television company in connection with such projects shall be conveyed to that entity in accordance with § 33.2-1014. The authority for such conveyance shall apply to acquisitions made by the Commissioner of Highways pursuant to previous requests as well as any subsequent request.
C. Any offer by the Commissioner of Highways to a property owner with respect to payment of compensation for the prospective taking of property and damage to property not taken incident to the purposes of this section shall separately state (i) the property to be taken and the amount of compensation offered therefor and (ii) the nature of the prospective damage or damages and the amount of compensation offered for each such prospective damage. The amount of the offer shall not be less than the amount of the approved appraisal of the fair market value of such property, in accordance with the provisions of § 25.1-417, or the current assessed value of such property for real estate tax purposes, unless the property has physically changed in a material and substantial way since the current assessment date such that the real estate tax assessment no longer represents a fair valuation of the property, when the entire parcel for which the assessment is made is to be acquired, whichever is greater. Any such appraisal used by the Commissioner of Highways as the basis for an offer shall be prepared by a real estate appraiser licensed in accordance with Chapter 20.1 (§ 54.1-2009 et seq.) of Title 54.1.
D. The Commissioner of Highways shall also provide to a property owner a copy of any report of status of title prepared in connection with such acquisition if prepared pursuant to subsection D of § 25.1-204.
E. In negotiating with a property owner with respect to payment for prospective damage to property not taken incident to the purposes of this section, the Commissioner of Highways shall ensure that such property owner or his authorized representative is properly informed as to the type and amount of foreseeable damage or enhancement. Adequate briefing includes (i) the giving of plats and profiles of the project, showing cuts and fills, together with elevations and grades and (ii) explanation, in lay terms, of all proposed changes in profile, elevation, and grade of the highway and entrances, including the elevations of proposed pavement and shoulders, both center and edges, with relation to the present pavement and approximate grade of entrances to the property.
F. Any option or deed executed by the property owner shall contain a statement that the plans as they affect his property have been fully explained. However, the requirements of this section with respect to information and briefing and the acknowledgment thereof in options and deeds shall in no way be construed to affect the validity of any conveyance, to create any right to compensation, or to limit the authority of the Commissioner of Highways to reasonably control the use of public highways so as to promote the public health, safety, and welfare.
G. Nothing in this section shall make evidence of tax assessments admissible as proof of value in an eminent domain proceeding.
Code 1950, § 33-57; 1956, c. 152; 1966, c. 65; 1968, c. 700; 1970, c. 322, § 33.1-89; 1976, c. 430; 1993, c. 67; 1999, c. 88; 2000, c. 1029; 2002, c. 878; 2003, c. 940; 2013, c. 764; 2014, c. 805.