CHAPTER 155. ACQUISITION OF INTERESTS IN LAND BY PUBLIC AGENCIES

 

6301. Purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is the purpose of this chapter to encourage and assist the maintenance of the present uses of Vermont's agricultural, forest, and other undeveloped land and to prevent the accelerated residential and commercial development thereof; to preserve and to enhance Vermont's scenic natural resources; to strengthen the base of the recreation industry and to increase employment, income, business, and investment; and to enable the citizens of Vermont to plan its orderly growth in the face of increasing development pressures in the interests of the public health, safety and welfare. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 2.

 

 

 

6301a. Definitions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As used in this chapter: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) "State agency" means the agency of natural resources or any of its departments, agency of transportation, agency of agriculture, food and markets or Vermont housing and conservation board. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) "Qualified organization" means: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(A) an organization qualifying under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, which is not a private foundation as defined in Section 509(a) of the Code, and which has been certified by the commissioner of taxes as being principally engaged in the preservation of undeveloped land for the purposes expressed in section 6301 of this title. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(B) an organization qualifying under Section 501(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, provided such organization is controlled exclusively by an organization or organizations described in subdivision (2)(A) of this section. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3) "Taxation" and "tax" means ad valorem taxes levied by the state and its municipalities. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Added 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), 42; amended 1989, No. 256 (Adj. Sess.), 10(a), eff. Jan. 1, 1991; 2003, No. 42, 2, eff. May 27, 2003.

 

 

 

6302. Power to acquire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)  In order to carry out the purposes set forth in section 6301 of this title any owner of real property located within this state or of any right or interest therein may sell, donate, devise, exchange or transfer that real property or any right or interest therein to a municipality of this state, a state agency or a qualified organization.  A municipality of this state by the action of its legislative body or a state agency may acquire such real property or any right and interest therein by purchase with any authorized funds, or by donation, devise, exchange, or transfer, all as herein provided. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(b)  For the purposes of this chapter, "real property" includes (without limitation) areas covered by water, areas beneath the surface of the ground, air space, and any buildings, other structures, and other improvements, and "real estate" as the same is defined in section 132 of Title 1. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c)  The general assembly hereby declares that the acquisition of real property or any right and interest therein, for the purposes expressed in section 6301 of this title, constitutes a public use and a public purpose for which public funds may be expended or advanced. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(d)  Prior to the acquisition of any right or interest in real property by a state agency, the state agency shall submit a report thereon to the legislative body of the municipality concerned, setting forth the location of the real property, the characteristics of the right or interest to be acquired, and the consideration to be given therefor. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 3; amended 1983, No. 71, 1; 1983, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), eff. April 13, 1984; 1987, No. 76, 18; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), 43.

 

6303. Interests which may be acquired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)  The rights and interests in real property which may be acquired, used, encumbered and conveyed by a municipality, state agency or qualified organization shall include, but not be limited to, the following: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Fee simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) Fee simple subject to right of occupancy and use, which may be defined as full and complete title subject only to a right of occupancy and use of the subject real property or part thereof by the grantor for residential or agricultural purposes, subject to the provisions of section 6304 of this title and to such other terms as the legislative body of the municipality, the qualified organization, or the state agency may fix. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3) Fee simple and resale of rights and interests, which may be defined as the acquisition of real property in fee simple and the subsequent reconveyance of rights and interests in such property to the former owner or to others, subject to the provisions of section 6304 of this title and to specified covenants, restrictions, conditions or affirmative requirements fixed by the legislative body of the municipality, the qualified organization, or the state agency in its discretion and designed to accomplish the purposes set forth in section 6301 of this title. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4) Fee simple and lease back, which may be defined as the acquisition of real property in fee simple and the lease for the life of a person or for a term of years of rights and interests therein, subject to the provisions of section 6304 of this title and to specified covenants, restrictions, conditions or affirmative requirements fixed by the legislative body of the municipality, the qualified organization, or the state agency in its discretion and designed to accomplish the purposes set forth in section 6301 of this title. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(5) Less than fee simple.  The acquisition and retention of any rights and interests in real property less than fee simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(6) Lease.  The lease of land or rights and interests in land for a term, with or without an option to purchase. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(7) Option to purchase.  The acquisition of an option to purchase land or rights and interests therein. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(b)  The legislative body of a municipality, a state agency or a qualified organization, as the case may be, shall determine the types of rights and interests in real property to be acquired, including licenses, equitable servitudes, profits, rights under covenants, easements, development rights, or any other rights and interests in real property of whatever character. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c)  Where less than fee simple ownership is acquired or retained, such right and interest may, in the discretion of the legislative body of the municipality, the state agency or the qualified organization, include a right to enter in order to accomplish the purposes of section 6301 of this title. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 4; 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), 44.

 

 

 

6304. Sales of land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In any case where rights and interests in real property have been reconveyed or leased back to a person by a municipality or a department, the use of land subject thereto shall not be changed, and no residential, industrial or commercial construction except for the use of the owner or his family shall be undertaken, except with the consent of the legislative body of the municipality or the department or except as specifically provided in the instrument evidencing the reconveyance or lease.  In the event of the termination of any rights or interests of such person, the legislative body of the municipality or the department shall pay to such person an amount equal to the fair market value of that portion of such right which remained unexpired on the date of such termination, unless such termination is caused by the breach by such person of a term of the instrument by which he acquired such right or interest.  In any case of acquisition subject to a right of occupancy and use, or acquisition and reconveyance, or acquisition and lease, under subsection 6303(a) of this title, the legislative body or department shall give priority to the grantor thereof in selecting the grantee or lessee, as the case may be. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 5.

 

 

 

6305. Exchanges of land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In exercising its authority to acquire property by exchange, a department may accept real property and rights and interests therein, and may convey to the grantor of such real property or rights and interests therein any state-owned property under the jurisdiction of the department, but only with the favorable advice and recommendation of the interagency committee on natural resources.  In effecting such exchanges, the department may also utilize for exchange purposes any privately-owned land and rights and interests therein donated or made available to it for such purpose of an exchange.  The land and rights and interests thus exchanged shall be approximately equal in fair market value, provided that the department may accept cash from or pay cash to the grantor in such an exchange, in order to equalize the value of the property and rights and interests therein being exchanged. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law and with the approval of the interagency committee on natural resources, state real property and rights and interests therein may, with the authorization of the department or other agency having custody thereof, be transferred without consideration, to the jurisdiction of a department designated under section 6302 of this title for use in carrying out the provisions of this chapter. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 6.

 

 

 

6306. Exemption from taxation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)  The rights and interests in real property acquired by a municipality or state agency under the authority of this chapter shall be considered as municipal or state-owned land, as the case may be, with respect to taxation and state reimbursement in lieu of taxes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(b) (1)  The commissioner of the department of taxes may certify that real property acquired by a qualified organization under this chapter is being held and maintained for the purposes expressed in section 6301 of this title.  As a condition of that certification, the commissioner may require that the qualified organization provide adequate assurances that the property is being so held and maintained, including but not limited to written agreements with the department of taxes, deeds, covenants or other conveyances.  Property which is so certified: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(A) if in the nature of an interest in fee simple, shall be assessed on the basis of its actual use, or may be enrolled by the qualifying organization in a current use program under chapter 124 of Title 32; or 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(B) shall be exempt from assessment and taxation, if in the nature of an interest other than fee simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) For purposes of this section, where a qualified organization holds a lease in the property for a term greater than ten years, including renewal terms, or holds such other interests as the commissioner shall determine to be substantially equivalent to an interest in fee simple, the organization shall be deemed to hold an interest in fee simple. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(c)  After acquisition by a municipality, state agency or qualified organization of a right or interest in real property under the authority of this chapter, the owner of any remaining right or interest therein not so acquired shall be taxed, under the applicable provisions of chapter 123 of Title 32, only upon the value of those remaining rights or interests to which he retains title.  The state agency or qualified organization, and the department of taxes, shall cooperate with that owner, and with the town assessing such tax, in the determination of the fair market value of any such remaining right or interest. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(d)  Property held by a qualified organization and taxed or exempted under subsection (b) of this section shall be subject to a conversion tax if the commissioner determines that it is no longer being held and maintained for the purposes expressed in section 6301 of this title.  The amount of the conversion tax shall be five times the amount of the taxes avoided by reason of the exemption in the most recent year.  The conversion tax shall be paid to the municipality in which the property is located. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Added 1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 7; amended 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), 45; 1997, No. 60, 68c.

 

  6307. Enforcement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)  Injunction.  In any case where rights and interests in real property are held by a municipality, state agency or qualified organization under the authority of this chapter, the legislative body of the municipality, the state agency or the qualified organization may institute injunction proceedings to enforce the rights of the municipality, state agency or qualified organization, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, and may take all other proceedings as are available to an owner of real property under the laws of this state to protect and conserve its right or interest. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(b)  Liquidated damages.  Any contract or deed establishing or relating to the sale or transfer of rights or interests in real property under the authority of this chapter may provide for specified liquidated damages, actual damages, costs and reasonable attorney fees in the event of a violation of the rights of the municipality, state agency or qualified organization thereunder. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 8; amended 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), 46.

 

 

 

6308. Termination of rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a)  If the legislative body of a municipality in the case of municipal rights or interests, or a state agency, in the case of state-owned rights or interests, finds that the retention of the rights or interests is no longer needed to carry out the purposes of this chapter, the rights or interests may be released and conveyed to the co-owner, to another public agency, to another party holding other rights or interests in the land, or to a third party.  Where the conveyance is to a party other than another public agency or qualified organization, the municipality or state agency shall receive adequate compensation from that party for the conveyance of the rights or interests. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(b)  Wherever possible, in order to promote the interests of the state, municipalities, qualified organizations, or private landowners involved, agreements for the conveyance of rights or interests in real property less than fee simple, entered into under the authority of this chapter, shall contain a provision limiting the agreement to a specified number of years except where both parties agree, such agreements may provide for the conveyance of rights and interests in perpetuity. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1969, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), 9; amended 1975, No. 186 (Adj. Sess.); 1987, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), 47.

 

6309. Agency of agriculture, food and markets; leases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the event that real property acquired by the agency of agriculture, food and markets is leased to a lessee other than a governmental entity of the state of Vermont, the lessee shall be taxed on the fair market value or the use value under the provisions of chapter 124 of Title 32 of the property by the municipality in which it is located. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Added 1983, No. 71, 2; amended 1989, No. 256 (Adj. Sess.), 10(a), eff. Jan. 1, 1991; 2003, No. 42, 2, eff. May 27, 2003.