Oklahoma statutes provide that the lands set apart for the use and benefit of the state of Oklahoma for public schools, for public buildings, and educational institutions, either by congressional enactment or executive reservation, are subject to the right of eminent domain on behalf of any public enterprises authorized by law to condemn private property for mills, sewers, railroads, side tracks, station grounds and other municipal or corporate public uses, and all of the laws of this state with reference to the taking of private property for public use are hereby made applicable to the said lands[i].
However, before any public corporation, municipality or other entity or person authorized to exercise the right of eminent domain under existing law, shall have the right to condemn or take any part of such lands, a plat of the grounds proposed to be taken, showing the part of the particular subdivision, shall be prepared and filed with the Governor of said state, together with a sworn statement of the engineer or superintendent in charge of such public work, that the taking of such lands is necessary to the exercise of the powers of such municipality or corporation; and it shall be the duty of the Governor to appoint three disinterested persons, resident householders of the county in which such land is located, who shall first take an oath to fairly and impartially appraise the value of the ground so taken. The damage to the remaining parts of such subdivision by the taking thereof, and the said appraisers shall notify the Governor and the officers of such corporation of the time and place when they will proceed to appraise such damage, and at such time and place, upon actual view of the premises, the said appraisers shall meet and appraise the damage, in writing, and return one copy thereof under their signatures to the Governor of the state, and one copy to the principal officer of such corporation or municipality in charge of such construction, and if either party is aggrieved they may, within ten days, appeal to the district court of the county where such land is located, in the same manner that appeals are taken from judgment of justices of the peace, where the amount of such damage shall be tried by a jury, as other causes are tried.
In case no appeal is taken from the award of such appraisers, such corporation or municipality shall have the right to occupy such grounds by the paying into the State Treasury the amount of such award. In case either party appeals, such corporation or municipality shall have the right to occupy such grounds upon giving bond in treble the amount of the award, with sureties to be approved by the clerk of the district court where such appeal is pending, to the effect that the corporation or municipality will pay said award if such appeal be dismissed, or shall pay any judgment finally rendered in said action if the same shall be tried[ii]
In every case wherein private property is taken or damaged for public use, the person whose property is taken or damaged shall be entitled to just compensation. “Just compensation” shall mean the value of the property taken, and in addition, any injury to any part of the property not taken. Any special and direct benefits to the part of the property not taken may be offset only against any injury to the property not taken. If only a part of a tract is taken, just compensation shall be ascertained by determining the difference between the fair market value of the whole tract immediately before the taking and the fair market value of that portion left remaining immediately after the taking[iii].
Any person, agency or other entity acquiring real property for public use under the laws of this state shall, as soon as practicable after the date of payment of the purchase price or the date of deposit into court of funds to satisfy the award of compensation in a condemnation proceeding to acquire real property, whichever is the earlier, reimburse the owner for expenses s/he necessarily incurred for:
- Recording fees, transfer taxes and similar expenses incidental to conveying such real property;
- Penalty costs for prepayment for any preexisting recorded mortgage entered into in good faith encumbering such real property; and
- The pro rata portion of real property taxes paid which are allocable to a period subsequent to the date of vesting title in the acquiring entity, or the effective date of possession of such real property by the acquiring entity, whichever is the earlier[iv].
Where an inverse condemnation proceeding is instituted by the owner of any right, title or interest in real property because of use of his/her property in any public program or project, the court, rendering a judgment for the plaintiff in such proceeding and awarding compensation for the taking of property, or the state’s attorney effecting a settlement of any such proceeding, shall determine an award or allow to such plaintiff, as a part of such judgment or settlement, such sum as will, in the opinion of the court or the acquiring entity’s attorney, respectively, reimburse such plaintiff for his reasonable costs, disbursements and expenses, including reasonable attorney, appraisal and engineering fees, actually incurred because of such proceeding. A determination by the court shall be appealable to the Supreme Court in the same manner as any other final order.[v].
Any person, acquiring agency, or other entity acquiring real property for any public project or program described in Section 9 of this title shall comply with the following:
- Every reasonable effort shall be made to acquire, expeditiously, real property by negotiation.
- Real property shall be appraised before the initiation of negotiations, and the owner or his designated representative shall be given an opportunity to accompany the appraiser during his/her inspection of the property, except that the head or governing body of the entity acquiring real property, if so mandated by federal law or regulation, may prescribe a procedure to waive the appraisal in cases involving the acquisition by sale or donation of property with a low fair market value as such value is defined by federal law or regulation.
- Before the initiation of negotiations for real property, an amount shall be established which is reasonably believed to be just compensation therefor and such amount shall be promptly offered for the property. In no event shall such amount be less than the approved appraisal of the fair market value of such real property. Any decrease or increase in the fair market value of real property prior to the date of valuation caused by the public improvement for which such property is acquired, or by the likelihood that the property would be acquired for such improvement, other than that due to physical deterioration within the reasonable control of the owner, will be disregarded in determining the compensation for the property. The owner of the real property to be acquired shall be provided with a written statement of, and summary of the basis for, the amount established as just compensation. Where appropriate, the just compensation for the real property acquired and for damages to remaining real property shall be separately stated.
- No owner shall be required to surrender possession of real property before the agreed purchase price is paid or deposited with the state court, in accordance with applicable law, for the benefit of the owner of an amount not less than the approved appraisal of the fair market value of such property, or the amount of the award of compensation in the condemnation proceeding of such property.
- The construction or development of a public improvement shall be so scheduled that, to the greatest extent practicable, no person lawfully occupying real property shall be required to move from a dwelling, assuming a replacement dwelling, as required by the Oklahoma Relocation Assistance Act, will be available, or to move his/her business or farm operation without at least ninety days’ written notice from the date by which such move is required.
- If any owner or tenant is permitted to occupy the real property acquired on a rental basis for a short term or for a period subject to termination on short notice, the amount of rent required shall not exceed the fair rental value of the property to a short-term occupier.
- In no event shall the time of condemnation be advanced, on negotiations or condemnation and the deposit of funds in court for the use of the owner be deferred, or any other coercive action be taken to compel an agreement on the price to be paid for the property.
- If an interest in real property is to be acquired by the exercise of the power of eminent domain, formal condemnation proceedings shall be instituted. The acquiring authority shall not intentionally make it necessary for an owner to institute legal proceedings to prove the fact of the taking of his/her real property.
- If the acquisition of only part of the property would leave its owner with an uneconomic remnant, an offer to acquire that remnant shall be made. For the purposes of this section, an uneconomic remnant is a parcel of real property in which the owner is left with an interest after the partial acquisition of the property of the owner which has little or no value or utility to the owner.
- A person whose real property is being acquired in accordance with this title may, after the person has been fully informed of his/her right to receive just compensation for such property, donate such property, any part thereof, any interest therein, or any compensation paid therefor, as such person shall determine[vi].
[i] 27 Okl. St. § 1.
[ii] 27 Okl. St. § 2.
[iii] 27 Okl. St. § 16.
[iv] 27 Okl. St. § 10.
[v] 27 Okl. St. § 12.
[vi] 27 Okl. St. § 13.