PRINTER'S NO. 185

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA


HOUSE BILL

No. 165 Session of 2003


        INTRODUCED BY BARD, HERMAN, GODSHALL, GEORGE, BAKER, BALDWIN,
           BARRAR, BELARDI, BELFANTI, BUNT, CAPPELLI, CORRIGAN,
           CREIGHTON, DAILEY, EACHUS, GRUCELA, HENNESSEY, LEACH, MELIO,
           MUNDY, O'NEILL, READSHAW, RUBLEY, SAYLOR, SCHRODER, SOLOBAY,
           STABACK, TANGRETTI, E. Z. TAYLOR, THOMAS, WATSON, WRIGHT,
           YOUNGBLOOD AND YUDICHAK, FEBRUARY 10, 2003

        REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY,
           FEBRUARY 10, 2003

                                     AN ACT

     1  Providing for the acquisition of property by the Commonwealth
     2     and local government units to mitigate flood hazards.

     3                         TABLE OF CONTENTS
     4  Section 1.  Short title.
     5  Section 2.  Statement of legislative intent.
     6  Section 3.  Definitions.
     7  Section 4.  Acquiring property interests to mitigate flood
     8                 hazards.
     9  Section 5.  Public hearing.
    10  Section 6.  Property acquired in fee simple.
    11  Section 7.  Local taxing options.
    12  Section 8.  Procedure for acquisitions by local government
    13                 units.
    14  Section 9.  Borrowing and acquisitions on an installment basis.
    15  Section 10.  Exercise of eminent domain.


     1  Section 11.  Assessment.
     2  Section 12.  Termination or disposition of property interests.
     3  Section 13.  Utility rights of way and underground gas storage.
     4  Section 14.  Construction.
     5  Section 15.  Effective date.
     6     The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     7  hereby enacts as follows:
     8  Section 1.  Short title.
     9     This act shall be known and may be cited as the Flood Hazard
    10  Mitigation Act.
    11  Section 2.  Statement of legislative intent.
    12     The purpose of this act is to reduce future risk of flood
    13  damages, while promoting the goals of preserving land for open
    14  space, recreational, wetland and related purposes, by providing
    15  a means by which the Commonwealth and its local government units
    16  may acquire property that is either located in areas having
    17  special flood hazards or other areas of flood risk or property
    18  that is substantially damaged by flood.
    19  Section 3.  Definitions.
    20     The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
    21  have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
    22  context clearly indicates otherwise:
    23     "Flood Mitigation Assistance Program."  The Federal program
    24  authorized by sections 1366 and 1367 of the National Flood
    25  Insurance Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-448, 42 U.S.C.  4104c and
    26  4104d) and the regulations appertaining thereto.
    27     "Hazard Mitigation Grant Program."  The Federal program
    28  pursuant to which hazard mitigation grants are made under the
    29  provisions of section 404 of The Robert T. Stafford Disaster
    30  Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 93-288, 42
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     1  U.S.C.  5170c) and the regulations appertaining thereto.
     2     "Interest in real property."  Any right in real property,
     3  improvements thereto or water, whatsoever, including, but not
     4  limited to, a fee simple, easement, remainder, future interest,
     5  transferable development right, lease, license, restriction or
     6  covenant of any sort, option or contractual interest or right
     7  concerning the use of or power to transfer property.
     8     "Local government unit."  Any of the following:
     9         (1)  A county.
    10         (2)  A county authority having among the purposes for
    11     which it was created the mitigation of flood hazards.
    12         (3)  A municipal corporation as defined in 1 Pa.C.S. 
    13     1991 (relating to definitions) or any similar general purpose
    14     unit of local government.
    15         (4)  A unit created by joint action of two or more local
    16     government units which is authorized to be created by the
    17     General Assembly, including cooperation by two or more local
    18     government units under 53 Pa.C.S. Ch. 23 Subch. A (relating
    19     to intergovernmental cooperation).
    20     "Mitigation of flood hazards."  The acquisition of interests
    21  in property located in areas having special flood hazards or
    22  other areas of flood risk and of property substantially damaged
    23  by flood in accordance with or supplementary to the Hazard
    24  Mitigation Grant Program or the Flood Mitigation Assistance
    25  Program, provided that the property so acquired is used in a
    26  manner compatible with open space, recreational or wetland
    27  management practices, including parks for outdoor recreational
    28  activities, nature reserves, cultivation, grazing, camping,
    29  buffer zones and other uses consistent with the use restrictions
    30  of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Flood Mitigation
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     1  Assistance Program.
     2  Section 4.  Acquiring property interests to mitigate flood
     3                 hazards.
     4     (a)  Authorization.--
     5         (1)  The Commonwealth or a local government unit may
     6     acquire, by purchase, contract, condemnation, gift, devise or
     7     otherwise, interests in real property for the mitigation of
     8     flood hazards.
     9         (2)  Acquisitions of interests in real property by a
    10     local government unit under this act are limited to interests
    11     in real property situate within its boundaries.
    12     (b)  Demolition and relocation.--The authority to acquire
    13  interests in real property under this act shall include the
    14  authority to provide for the demolition of structures on or the
    15  relocation of structures from the property acquired.
    16  Section 5.  Public hearing.
    17     Interests in real property may not be acquired under this act
    18  unless a public hearing is held, after notice both to the owners
    19  of interests in real property to be acquired and to the local
    20  government unit in which land is situate. At the public hearing,
    21  the entity acquiring the property interests shall set forth the
    22  interests to be taken and their proposed use, and persons and
    23  municipalities affected by the acquisition shall have an
    24  opportunity to present relevant evidence.
    25  Section 6.  Property acquired in fee simple.
    26     If the owner of an interest in real property to be acquired
    27  under this act prefers to have the Commonwealth or the local
    28  government unit acquire the property in fee simple, the
    29  Commonwealth or the local government unit shall be required to
    30  acquire the property in fee simple.
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     1  Section 7.  Local taxing options.
     2     (a)  General rule.--To provide revenue to make acquisitions
     3  for the mitigation of flood hazards or retire the indebtedness
     4  incurred in the mitigation of flood hazards, a local government
     5  unit shall have the following local tax options:
     6         (1)  In addition to the statutory rate limits on real
     7     estate taxes provided for counties, a county may, by
     8     ordinance, impose a tax on real property not exceeding the
     9     millage authorized by referendum as required by subsection
    10     (b).
    11         (2)  In addition to the statutory rate limits provided
    12     for the respective class of local government units, a local
    13     government unit, excluding a county and county authority,
    14     may, by ordinance, impose either a tax on real property not
    15     exceeding the millage authorized by referendum under
    16     subsection (b) or a tax on the earned income of the residents
    17     of that local government unit not exceeding the rate
    18     authorized by referendum under subsection (b).
    19     (b)  Referendum.--
    20         (1)  The local taxing option authorized by this section
    21     shall not be exercised unless the governing body of the local
    22     government unit shall, by ordinance, first provide for a
    23     referendum on the question of the imposition of the
    24     additional tax at a specific rate and a majority of those
    25     voting on the referendum question vote in favor of the
    26     imposition of the tax. The ordinance of the governing board
    27     of the local government unit providing for a referendum on
    28     the question shall be filed with the county board of
    29     elections.
    30         (2)  The referendum shall be governed by the provisions
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     1     of the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the
     2     Pennsylvania Election Code.
     3         (3)  The election official shall cause the question to be
     4     submitted to the electors of the local government unit at the
     5     next primary, general or municipal election occurring not
     6     less than the 13th Tuesday following the filing of the
     7     ordinance with the county board of elections.
     8         (4)  At such election, the question shall be submitted to
     9     the voters in the same manner as other questions are
    10     submitted under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Election
    11     Code. The question to be placed upon the ballot shall be
    12     framed in the following form:
    13             Do you favor the imposition of a (describe tax in
    14             millage or rate) by (local government unit) to be
    15             used in the mitigation of flood hazards to (purpose)?
    16  Section 8.  Procedure for acquisitions by local government
    17                 units.
    18     (a)  Recordkeeping.--When a local government unit acquires an
    19  interest in real property as authorized under this act, it shall
    20  establish and maintain a repository of records of the interests
    21  in real property that have been or are acquired by the local
    22  government unit. The local government unit shall also record
    23  each interest in real property acquired by the local government
    24  unit in the office of the recorder of deeds for the county in
    25  which the real property is located.
    26     (b)  Copy to school district.--A local government unit
    27  acquiring an interest in real property shall submit to the
    28  school district within which the real property is located a
    29  copy, certified by the county recorder of deeds, of the deed
    30  reflecting the acquisition.
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     1  Section 9.  Borrowing and acquisitions on an installment basis.
     2     (a)  Authority to incur debt.--
     3         (1)  A local government unit that is governed by 53
     4     Pa.C.S. Pt. VII Subpt. B (relating to indebtedness and
     5     borrowing) may incur indebtedness under 53 Pa.C.S. Pt. VII
     6     Subpt. B for the purposes of acquiring property interests
     7     under the provisions of this act, and a local government unit
     8     may authorize the establishment of a program to purchase the
     9     property interests on an installment or other deferred basis.
    10         (2)  The obligation of the local government unit to make
    11     payments on an installment or other deferred basis shall not
    12     be subject to the requirements of 53 Pa.C.S.  8142(b) or (c)
    13     (relating to limitations on stated maturity dates).
    14     (b)  Interest to be paid to landowner.--A landowner who
    15  enters into an installment agreement with a local government
    16  unit shall receive, in addition to the selling price, interest
    17  in an amount or at a rate set forth in the purchase agreement.
    18  Section 10.  Exercise of eminent domain.
    19     The use of the power of eminent domain to acquire interests
    20  in real property for the purposes of this act shall be exercised
    21  under the provisions of the act of June 22, 1964 (Sp.Sess.,
    22  P.L.84, No.6), known as the Eminent Domain Code, and shall be
    23  subject to restrictions and limitations imposed by Federal or
    24  State law.
    25  Section 11.  Assessment.
    26     Any interest in property acquired by the Commonwealth or a
    27  local government unit under this act shall be held for public
    28  purposes and be exempt from taxation. The assessment of private
    29  interests in land subject to an interest in property acquired
    30  under this act shall reflect any change in market value of the
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     1  property that may result from the acquisition of the property
     2  interest by the Commonwealth or the local government unit.
     3  Section 12.  Termination or disposition of property interests.
     4     Property interests acquired under this act may be terminated
     5  or disposed of in a manner not inconsistent with any
     6  restrictions and limitations imposed by the Hazard Mitigation
     7  Grant Program or the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program.
     8  Section 13.  Utility rights of way and underground gas storage.
     9     (a)  General rule.--The ownership by the Commonwealth or a
    10  local government unit of a property interest acquired under this
    11  act shall not preclude the acquisition, by lease, purchase or
    12  eminent domain, and use of rights of way or underground gas
    13  storage rights in such property by a public utility or other
    14  body entitled to exercise the power of eminent domain. In the
    15  case of an acquisition by a public utility, such acquisition
    16  shall occur only if the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission,
    17  after public hearing, shall find that such acquisition and use
    18  are necessary or proper for the service, accommodation,
    19  convenience or safety of the public. In the case of an
    20  acquisition by a body other than a public utility, such
    21  acquisition shall occur only if the Commonwealth or the local
    22  government unit, after public hearing, shall approve the
    23  acquisition.
    24     (b)  Notice of public hearing.--
    25         (1)  Notice of public hearing required by subsection (a)
    26     shall include a statement of the purpose of the public
    27     hearing and the date, time and place of the public hearing
    28     and be given by publication one time at least 20 days prior
    29     to the hearing, in a newspaper of general circulation in the
    30     area where the property is located, and written notice shall
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     1     be conspicuously posted at points deemed sufficient by the
     2     body conducting the public hearing to notify potentially
     3     interested citizens. The affected tract shall be posted at
     4     least ten days prior to the hearing.
     5         (2)  If the Commonwealth or a local government unit owns
     6     an interest in property that is the subject of the hearing,
     7     and is not itself conducting the hearing, notice shall be
     8     sent by United States first class mail at least 20 days prior
     9     to the hearing to the Commonwealth or the local government
    10     unit.
    11  Section 14.  Construction.
    12     The authority granted to the Commonwealth and local
    13  government units under this act shall be in addition to and not
    14  in limitation of any other authority heretofore or hereafter
    15  granted to the Commonwealth or a local government unit by any
    16  other law and shall be construed to enlarge and not to reduce or
    17  limit the power and authority of the Commonwealth and local
    18  government units.
    19  Section 15.  Effective date.
    20     This act shall take effect immediately.







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