The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 502. Authority; precondemnation hearing
(a) Authority. The Agency, when in its judgment the interests of the State require, may take any property necessary to lay out, relocate, alter, construct, reconstruct, maintain, repair, widen, grade, or improve any State highway, including affected portions of town highways. In furtherance of these purposes, the Agency may enter upon lands to conduct necessary examinations and surveys; however, the Agency shall do this work with minimum damage to the land and disturbance to the owners and shall be subject to liability for actual damages. All property taken permanently shall be taken in fee simple whenever practicable. The Agency's acquisition of property pursuant to this chapter, whether by condemnation or conveyance in lieu of condemnation, shall not require subdivision approval under any law, regulation, or municipal ordinance. For all State highway projects involving property acquisitions, the Agency shall follow the provisions of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act and its implementing regulations, as may be amended.
(b) Limited access highway facilities. The Agency, in the construction and maintenance of limited access highway facilities, may also take any land or rights of the landowner in land under 9 V.S.A. chapter 93, subchapter 2, relating to advertising on limited access highways.
(c) Public hearing; notice of hearing.
(1) A public hearing shall be held for the purpose of receiving suggestions and recommendations from the public prior to the Agency's initiating proceedings under this chapter for the acquisition of any property. The hearing shall be conducted by the Agency.
(2) The Agency shall prepare an official notice stating the purpose for which the property is desired and generally describing the highway project.
(3) Not less than 30 days prior to the hearing, the Agency shall:
(A) cause the official notice to be printed in a newspaper having general circulation in the area affected;
(B) mail a copy of the notice to the legislative bodies of the municipalities affected; and
(C) mail a copy of the notice to all known owners whose property may be taken as a result of the proposed improvement.
(4) At the hearing, the Agency shall set forth the reasons for the selection of the route intended and shall hear and consider all objections, suggestions for changes, and recommendations made by any person interested. Following the hearing, the Agency may proceed to lay out the highway and survey and acquire the land to be taken or affected in accordance with this chapter.
(d) Land used for school purposes. The Agency shall not take land or any right in land that is owned by a town or union school district and being used for school purposes until the voters of the district have voted on the issue of taking at a meeting called for that purpose. A special meeting of the town or union school district shall be called promptly upon receiving notice of a public hearing unless the annual meeting is to be held within 30 days after receiving the notice of public hearing. Due consideration shall be given by the court to the result of the vote, in addition to the other factors referred to in section 501 of this title, in determining necessity.
(e) Future planning. In the interests of orderly and effective future planning, the Agency may acquire land and rights in land to be used for highway purposes within the reasonably foreseeable future, including future construction of four-lane highways on routes presently designed for construction of two lanes, and the construction of interchanges, bridges, and all other improvements to existing highways or highways presently scheduled for construction. In the case of the laying out of highways on a new location, "reasonably foreseeable future" means projects on which construction is to be commenced in a period not exceeding 15 years from the date of acquisition. In the event the Agency determines that the land is no longer necessary for use as a highway, it shall immediately sell the property at public sale to private persons, giving consideration to the adjoining landowners. (Added 1985, No. 269 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1993, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 20; 2011, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2019, No. 59, § 23; 2021, No. 20, § 91.)