32 CFR 552.37 - Acquisition by Chief of Engineers.
(a) Statutory authority. The Chief of Engineers, under the direction of the Secretary of the Army, is charged with the acquisition of all real estate for the use of the Department of the Army (10 U.S.C. 3038).
(b) Scope of responsibility. This authority is exercised by the Chief of Engineers, acting for the Secretary of the Army, in the acquisition of all real estate and interests therein for the use of the Department of the Army in continental United States, Territories, possessions, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
(c) Delegated authority. The Chief of Engineers or his duly authorized representative has authority to approve, for the Secretary of the Army:
(1) Fee, easement, and license acquisitions which do not exceed $5,000 for any one parcel and which constitute small tracts of additional land needed in connection with projects for which final Department of the Army, Department of Defense, and/or Congressional approval has been obtained, or which constitute rights-of-way for roads, railroads, and utility lines necessary to the construction, maintenance, and operation of an approved project.
(2) Leasehold acquisition where the estimated annual rental for any single leasehold does not exceed $25,000 and the acquisition is not controversial, unusual, or inconsistent with Department of Army policies.
(3) Renewal or extension of leaseholds.
(4) Acquisition by permit of the right to use real property of another Government department or agency, except as to “general purpose” space from the General Services Administration and the Post Office Department and all space in the metropolitan District of Columbia area.
(d) Minor boundary changes. The Chief of Engineers, in accomplishing acquisition in accordance with Department of Defense and Department of the Army policies and with real estate directives and authorizations to lease issued by the Secretary of the Army or his designee, is authorized to make minor boundary changes to avoid severance damages, by including or excluding small tracts of land which will not decrease the usefulness of the area for the purpose for which it is being acquired.
(e) Responsibility for all negotiations. To avoid any possibility of misunderstanding by property owners and resultant embarrassment to the Department of the Army, under no circumstances will commitments be made either by negotiation or by dissemination of information to property owners, by any authority other than the Chief of Engineers. This is not intended to restrict the public notice and release of general information as set forth in § 552.34(h).
(f) Approval of title. The written opinion of the Attorney General, in favor of the validity of the title, will be obtained for any site or land purchased by the United States. Unless expressly waived by the pertinent authorization act or other act of Congress, this opinion will be obtained prior to the expenditure of public money upon such site or land (section 355, as amended, of the Revised Statutes; 50 U.S.C. 175) except:
(1) Easements acquired for military purposes. (By agreement with the Attorney General, his opinion is obtained only in acquiring easements at a cost in excess of $100.)
(2) Leases and licenses.
(3) Jurisdiction of Government-owned land by transfer or use of Government-owned land by permit.
(g) Furnishing title evidence. The Chief of Engineers, acting under the authority of the Secretary of the Army, will procure any evidence of title required by the Attorney General. The expense of procurement, except where otherwise authorized by law or provided by contract, may be paid out of the appropriations for the acquisition of land or out of the appropriations made for the contingencies of the Department of the Army (section 355, as amended, of the Revised Statutes; 50 U.S.C. 175).
(h) Condemnation -
(1) General. Fee title, easements, or leasehold interests may be acquired by the exercise of right of eminent domain through the institution of condemnation proceedings. These proceedings are instituted in the United States District Courts by the Attorney General, based upon requests from the Secretary of the Army. Normally, condemnation proceedings are instituted only after agreement cannot be reached with landowners or other parties in interest as to the value of the real property or interest therein to be acquired by the Government; where there are title defects which do not permit acquisition by purchase or lease, as appropriate; or where construction schedules or occupancy dates do not allow the Chief of Engineers sufficient time to conduct normal negotiations for options to purchase or lease.
(2) Vesting of title or other interest in the United States. Under a condemnation proceeding, title, or other interest condemned vests in the United States upon entry of final judgment in the proceeding. Where it is necessary to have title or other interest vested in the United States at an earlier date, a Declaration of Taking, signed by the Secretary of the Army, may be filed in the proceeding, with the petition or at any time before final judgment. Upon the filing of the Declaration of Taking and deposit in the court of the amount of estimated compensation, title or other interest condemned vests in the United States (Act of February 26, 1931; 46 Stat. 1421; 40 U.S.C. 258a).