FEDERAL-AID POLICY GUIDE
December 9, 1991, Transmittal 1
23 CFR 750D
SUBCHAPTER H - RIGHT-OF-WAY AND ENVIRONMENT
PART 750 - HIGHWAY BEAUTIFICATION
Subpart D - Outdoor Advertising (Acquisition of Rights of Sign and Sign Site Owners)
750.304 State policies and procedures.
750.305 Federal participation.
750.306 Documentation for Federal participation.
750.307 FHWA project approval.
Authority: 23 U.S.C. 131 and 315; 23 CFR 1.32 and 1.48(b).
Source: 39 FR 27436, July 29, 1974, unless otherwise noted.
Sec. 750.301 Purpose.
To prescribe the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) policies relating to Federal participation in the costs of acquiring the property interests necessary for removal of nonconforming advertising signs, displays and devices on the Federal-aid Primary and Interstate Systems, including toll sections on such systems, regardless of whether Federal funds participated in the construction thereof. This regulation should not be construed to authorize any additional rights in eminent domain not already existing under State law or under 23 U.S.C. 131(g).
Sec. 750.302 Policy.
(a) Just compensation shall be paid for the rights and interests of the sign and site owner in those outdoor advertising signs, displays, or devices which are lawfully existing under State law, in conformance withthe terms of 23 U.S.C. 131.
(b)(1) Federal reimbursement will be made on the basis of 75 percent of the acquisition, removal and incidental costs legally incurred or obligated by the State.
(2) Federal funds will participate in 100 percent of the costs of removal of those signs which were removed prior to January 4, 1975, by relocation, pursuant to the provisions of 23 CFR Sec. 750.305(a)(2), and which are required to be removed as a result of the amendments made to 23 U.S.C. 131 by the Federal-Aid Highway Amendments of 1974, P.L. 93-643, section 109, January 4, 1975. Such signs must have been relocated to a legal site, must have been legally maintained since the relocation, and must not have been substantially changed, as defined by the State maintenance standards, issued pursuant to 23 CFR Sec. 750.707(b).
(c) Title III of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (42 U.S.C. 4651, et seq.) applies except where complete conformity would defeat the purposes set forth in 42 U.S.C. 4651, would impede the expeditious implementation of the sign removal program or would increase administrative costs out of proportion to the cost of the interests being acquired or extinguished.
(d) Projects for the removal of outdoor advertising signs including hardship acquisitions should be programed and authorized in accordance with normal program procedures for right-of-way projects.
[39 FR 27436, July 29, 1974; 39 FR 30349, Aug. 22, 1974, as amended at 41 FR 31198, July 27, 1976]
Sec. 750.303 Definitions.
(a) Sign. An outdoor sign, light, display, device, figure, painting, drawing, message, placard, poster, billboard or other thing which is designed, intended of the advertising or informative contents of which is visible from any place on the main-traveled way of the Interstate or Primary Systems, whether the same be permanent orportable installation.
(b) Lease (license, permit, agreement, contract or easement). An agreement, oral or in writing, by which possession or use of land or interests therein is given by the owner or other person to another person for a specified purpose.
(c) Leasehold value. The leasehold value is the present worth of the difference between the contractual rent and the current market rent at the time of the appraisal.
(d) Illegal sign. One which was erected and/or maintained in violation of State law.
(e) Nonconforming sign. One which was lawfully erected, but which does not comply with the provisions of State law or State regulations passed at a later date or which later fails to comply with State law or State regulations due to changed conditions. Illegally erected or maintained signs are not nonconforming signs.
(f) 1966 inventory. The record of the survey of advertising signs and junkyards compiled by the State highway department.
(g) Abandoned sign. One in which no one has an interest, or as defined by State law.
Sec. 750.304 State policies and procedures.
The State's written policies and operating procedures for implementing its sign removal program under State law and complying with 23 U.S.C. 131 and its proposed time schedule for sign removal and procedure for reporting its accomplishments shall be submitted to the FHWA for approval within 90 days of the date of this regulation. This statement should be supported by the State's regulations implementing its program. Revisions to the State's policies and procedures shall be submitted to the FHWA for approval. The statement should contain provisions for the review of its policies and procedure to meet changing conditions, adoption of improved procedures, and for internal review to assure compliance. The statement shall include as a minimum the following:
(a) Project priorities. The following order of priorities is recommended.
(1) Illegal and abandoned signs.
(2) Hardship situations.
(3) Nominal value signs.
(4) Signs in areas which have been designated as scenic under authority of State law.
(5) Product advertising on:
(i) Rural interstate highway.
(ii) Rural primary highway.
(iii) Urban areas.
(6) Nontourist-oriented directional advertising.
(7) Tourist-oriented directional advertising.
(b) Programing. (1) A sign removal project may consist of any group of proposed sign removals. The signs may be those belonging to one company or those located along a single route, all of the signs in a single county or other locality, hardship situations, individually or grouped, such as those involving vandalized signs, or all of a sign owner's signs in a given State or area, or any similar grouping.
(2) A project for sign removal on other than a Federal-aid primary route basis e.g., a countywide project or a project involving only signs owned by one company, should be identified as CAF-000B( ), continuing the numbering sequence which began with the sign inventory project in 1966.
(3) Where it would not interfere with the State's operations, the State should program sign removal projects to minimize disruption of business.
(c) Valuation and review methods - (1) Schedules - formulas.Schedules, formulas or other methods to simplify valuation of signs and sites are recommended for the purpose of minimizing administrative and legal expenses necessarily involved in determining just compensation by individual appraisals and litigation. They do not purport to be a basis for the determination of just compensation under eminent domain.
(2) Appraisals. Where appropriate, the State may use its approved appraisal report forms including those for abbreviated or short form appraisals. Where a sign or site owner does not accept the amount computed under an approved schedule, formula, or other simplified method, an appraisal shall be utilized.
(3) Leaseholds. When outdoor advertising signs and sign sites involve a leasehold value, the State's procedures should provide for determining value in the same manner as any other real estate leasehold that has value to the lessee.
(4) Severance damages. The State has the responsibility of justifying the recognition of severance damages pursuant to 23 CFR 710.304(h), and the law of the State before Federal participation will be allowed. Generally, Federal participation will not be allowed in the payment of severance damages to remaining signs, or other property of a sign company alleged to be due to the taking of certain of the company's signs. Unity of use of the separate properties, as required by applicable principles of eminent domain law, must be shown to exist before participation in severance damages will be allowed. Moreover, the value of the remaining signs or other real property must be diminished by virtue of the taking of such signs. Payments for severance damages to economic plants or loss of business profits are not compensable. Severance damage cases must be submitted to the FHWA for prior concurrence, together with complete legal and appraisal justification for payment of these damages. To assist the FHWA in its evaluation, the following data will accompany any submission regarding severance:
(i) One copy of each appraisal in which this was analyzed. One copy of the State's review appraiser analysis and determination of market value.
(ii) A plan or map showing the location of each sign.
(iii)An opinion by the State highway department's chief legal officer that severance is appropriate in accordance with State law together with a legal opinion that, in the instant case, the damages constitute severance as opposed to consequential damage as a matter of law. The opinion shall include a determination, and the basis therefor, that the specific taking of some of an outdoor advertiser's signs constitutes a distinct economic unit, and that unity of use of the separate properties in conformity with applicable principles of eminent domain law had been satisfactorily established. A legal memorandum must be furnished citing and discussing cases and other authorities supporting the State's position.
(5) Review of value estimates. All estimates of value shall be reviewed by a person other than the one who made the estimate. Appraisal reports shall be reviewed and approved prior to initiation of negotiations. All other estimates shall be reviewed before the agreement becomes final.
(d) Nominal value plan. (1) This plan may provide for the removal costs of eligible nominal value signs and for payments up to $250 for each nonconforming sign, and up to $100 for each nonconforming sign site.
(2) The State's procedures may provide for negotiations for sign sites and sign removals to be accomplished simultaneously without prior review.
(3) Releases or agreements executed by the sign and/or site owner should include the identification of thesign, statement of ownership, price to be paid, interest acquired, and removal rights.
(4) It is not expected that salvage value will be a consideration in most acquisitions; however, the State's procedures may provide that the sign may be turned over to the sign owner, site owner, contractor, or individual as all or a part of the consideration for its removal, without any project credits.
(5) Programing and authorizations will be in accord with Sec. 750.308 of this regulation. A detailed estimate of value of each individual sign is not necessary. The project may be programed and authorized as one project.
(e) Sign removal. The State's procedural statement should include provision for:
(1) Owner retention.
(2) Salvage value.
(3) State removal.
[39 FR 27436, July 29, 1974; 42 FR 30835, June 17, 1977, as amended at 50 FR 34093, Aug. 23, 1985]
Sec. 750.305 Federal participation.
(a) Federal funds may participate in:
(1) Payments made to a sign owner for his right, title and interest in a sign, and where applicable, his leasehold value in a sign site, and to a site owner for his right and interest in a site, which is his right to erect and maintain the existing nonconforming sign on such site.
(2) The cost of relocating a sign to the extent of the cost to acquire the sign, less salvage value if any.
(3) A duplicate payment for the site owner's interest of $2,500 or less because of a bona fide error inownership, provided the State has followed its title search procedures as set forth in its policy and procedure submission.
(4) The cost of removal of signs, partially completed sign structures, supporting poles, abandoned signs and those which are illegal under State law within the controlled areas, provided such costs are incurred in accordance with State law. Removal may be by State personnel on a force account basis or by contract. Documentation for Federal participation in such removal projects should be in accord with the State's normal force account and contractual reimbursement procedures. The State should maintain a record of the number of signs removed. These data should be retained in project records and reported on the periodic report required under Sec. 750.308 of this regulation.
(5) Signs materially damaged by vandals. Federal funds shall be limited to the Federal pro-rata share of the fair market value of the sign immediately before the vandalism occurred minus the estimated cost of repairing and reerecting the sign. If the State chooses, it may use its FHWA approved nominal value plan procedure to acquire these signs.
(6) The cost of acquiring and removing completed sign structures which have been blank or painted out beyond the period of time established by the State for normal maintenance and change of message, provided the sign owner can establish that his nonconforming use was not abandoned or discontinued, and provided such costs are incurred in accordance with State law, or regulation. The evidence considered by the State as acceptable for establishing or showing that the nonconforming use has not been abandoned or voluntarily discontinued shall be set forth in the State's policy and procedures.
(7) In the event a sign was omitted in the 1966 inventory, and the State supports a determination that the sign was in existence prior to October 22, 1965, the costs are eligible for Federalparticipation.
(b) Federal funds may not participate in:
(1) Cost of title certificates, title insurance, title opinion or similar evidence or proof of title in connection with the acquisition of a landowner's right to erect and maintain a sign or signs when the amount of payment to the landowner for his interest is $2,500 or less, unless required by State law. However, Federal funds may participate in the costs of securing some lesser evidence or proof of title such as searches and investigations by State highway department personnel to the extent necessary to determine ownership, affidavit of ownership by the owner, bill of sale, etc. The State's procedure for determining evidence of title should be set forth in the State's policy and procedure submission.
(2) Payments to a sign owner where the sign was erected without permission of the property owner unless the sign owner can establish his legal right to erect and maintain the sign. However, such signs may be removed by State personnel on a force account basis or by contract with Federal participation except where the sign owner reimburses the State for removal.
(3) Acquisition costs paid for abandoned or illegal signs, potential sign sites, or signs which were built during a period of time which makes them ineligible for compensation under 23 U.S.C. 131, or for rights in sites on which signs have been abandoned or illegally erected by a sign owner.
(4) The acquisition cost of supporting poles or partially completed sign structures in nonconforming areas which do not have advertising or informative content thereon unless the owner can show to the State's satisfaction he has not abandoned the structure. When the State has determined the sign structure has not been abandoned, Federal funds will participate in the acquisition of the structure, provided the cost are incurred in accordance with State law.
Sec. 750.306 Documentation for Federal participation.
The following information concerning each sign must be available in the State's files to be eligible for Federal participation.
(a) Payment to sign owner. (1) A photograph of the sign in place. Exceptions may be made in cases where in one transaction the State has acquired a number of a company's nominal value signs similar in size, condition and shape. In such cases, only a sample of representative photographs need be provided to document the type and condition of the signs.
(2) Evidence showing the sign was nonconforming as of the date of taking.
(3) Value documentation and proof of obligation of funds.
(4) Satisfactory indication of ownership of the sign and compensable interest therein (e.g., lease or other agreement with the property owner, or an affidavit, certification, or other such evidence of ownership).
(5) Evidence that the sign falls within one of the three categories shown in Sec. 750.302 of thisregulation. The specific category should be identified.
(6) Evidence that the right, title, or interest pertaining to the sign has passed to the State, or that the sign has been removed.
(b) Payment to the site owner.
(1) Evidence that an agreement has been reached between the State and owner.
(2) Value documentation and proof of obligation of funds.
(3) Satisfactory indication of ownership or compensable interest.
(c) In those cases where Federal funds participate in 100 percent of the cost of removal, the State file shall contain the records of the relocation made prior to January 4, 1975.
[39 FR 27436, July 29, 1974, as amended at 41 FR 31198, July 27, 1976]
Sec. 750.307 FHWA project approval.
Authorization to proceed with acquisitions on a sign removal project shall not be issued until such time as the State has submitted to FHWA the following:
(a) A general description of the project.
(b) The total number of signs to be acquired.
(c) The total estimated cost of the sign removal project, including a breakdown of incidental, acquisition and removal costs.
Sec. 750.308 Reports.
Periodic reports on site acquisitions and actual sign removals shall be submitted on FHWA Form 1424 and as prescribed. Forms are available at FHWA Division Offices located in each State.
[39 FR 27436, July 29, 1974, as amended at 41 FR 9321, Mar. 4, 1976]
Real Estate Services