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|Applicability of the Uniform Relocation Act to Nonprofit Organizations|
|Original signed by|
Barbara K. Orski
Director, Office of Right-of-Way
Washington, D. C.
|Regional Federal Highway Administrators|
|May 20, 1994|
Recently, a non-profit organization (NPO) raised several issues concerning the applicability of the Uniform Act to their activities. They contended that the Uniform Act is not applicable to projects involving non-profit organizations. It is our position that the activities of non-profit organizations are subject to Uniform Act coverage if they are for a Federal or federally-assisted program or project. We wanted you to be aware of this position should a similar situation arise in your Region.
The primary objective of the Uniform Act always has been to protect and insure fair treatment for persons whose property is acquired and or who are forced to move by Federal or federally-assisted programs or projects. The FHWA's policy has been to apply the provisions of the Uniform Act to all persons whose property is acquired or who are displaced for a Federal or federally-assisted project if there is any Federal funding in my part of the project.
In addition, one purpose of the 1987 Amendments to the Uniform Act was to expand its coverage to include all acquisitions and consequent displacements occurring as a result of Federal or federally-assisted projects, whether carried out by private parties or by Federal, State, or local agencies.
Thus, acquisitions or displacements are covered by the Uniform Act's acquisition or relocation requirements when they are "for (or the result of) a program or project undertaken by a Federal agency or receiving Federal financial assistance." The important consideration is not who does the acquisition or displacement but, rather, whether a particular acquisition or displacement is a part of a Federal or federally-assisted program or project. This includes, as the Comptroller General has noted, situations in which the land mass acquired with the intention of using it for construction of a federally-assisted project.
Whether a particular acquisition or relocation is for a Federal of federally-assisted program or project obviously must be determined on a case-by-case basis. In some cases the answer will be obvious, since a written or other agreement will exist
In other cases, there may have been an "understanding" evidenced, for example,by the Federal agency or assistance recipient's payment of "holding expenses" incurred by the non-profit in the interim between acquisition and resale. In such "other" cases, the Federal agency or assistance recipient must determine whether the acquisition or relocation was for the program or project.
When the Uniform Act does apply, there are two possible levels of coverage concerning the acquisition and relocation requirements for owners (not tenants): (1) full conformance with the requirements of Section 301 (including an offer of just compensation based on an appraisal of fair market value), to the greatest extent practicable under State law or; (2) for an acquiring agency that does not have eminent domain authority, coverage to the extent provided by the lead agency is subject only to the limited requirements set forth in 49 CFR 24.101(a) (2) and 24.2 (g) (2) (viii).
This reflects congressional recognition that when a property is acquired for a Federal or federally-assisted project without recourse to the power of eminent domain, some of the protection of the Uniform Act is not necessary.
Of course, there also may be situations when the acquisition of land subsequently conveyed to a Federal or federally-assisted program or project is undertaken with no reference to the subsequent acquisition. In these cases, the initial acquisition or relocation would not be covered.
We are supportive of the public interest objectives of NPOs. However, when those objectives involve providing real property for a Federal or federally-assisted program or project, they must accommodate the public interest objectives of the Uniform Act.