Title 23

SECTION 750.304

750.304 State policies and procedures.

§ 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 the sign, 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 § 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]