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SB579 SUB1 Senate Bill 579 History

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COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE

FOR

Senate Bill No. 579

(By Senators Unger, Cookman, Edgell, Laird, Miller, Palumbo, Snyder, Stollings and Kessler (Mr. President))

____________

[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;

reported February 20, 2014.]

____________

 

 

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §31-18E-1, §31-18E-2, §31-18E-3, §31-18E-4, §31-18E-5, §31-18E-6, §31-18E-7, §31-18E-8, §31-18E-9, §31-18E-10, §31-18E-11, §31-18E-12, §31-18E-13, §31-18E-14, §31-18E-15, §31-18E-16, §31-18E-17 and §31-18E-18, all relating to improving housing development and land use; authorizing creation of a land trust by West Virginia municipalities, counties or a combination thereof; stating legislative findings; defining terms; providing requirements for the permissive creation and operation of land trust entities; detailing certain requirements for a land trust board and staff; requiring certain terms of the land trust be set forth; providing certain immunity to land trust jurisdictions; setting forth powers and limitations of land trust entities; explicitly stating that land trust entities do not have the power of eminent domain; detailing criteria for acquisition and disposition of property by land trust entities; authorizing certain land trust-related property as exempt from property tax; stating land trust funding sources; stating requirements and constraints on disposition of property; detailing potential financing of land trust operations; permitting special allocation of certain property taxes in certain situations; authorizing the issuance of certain bonds; requiring land trust entities to follow open meetings and freedom of information requirements; providing a process for dissolution of land trusts; requiring the Ethics Act to apply to land trust employees and board members; providing for expedited quiet of title proceedings in circuit court; providing for liberal construction of the article; and requiring an annual audit and report of all land trusts.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §31-18E-1, §31-18E-2, §31-18E-3, §31-18E-4, §31-18E-5, §31-18E-6, §31-18E-7, §31-18E-8, §31-18E-9, §31-18E-10, §31-18E-11, §31-18E-12, §31-18E-13, §31-18E-14, §31-18E-15, §31-18E-16, §31-18E-17 and §31-18E-18, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 18E. WEST VIRGINIA LAND TRUST AUTHORIZATION.

§31-18E-1. Short Title.

    This article may be known and cited as the West Virginia Land Trust Authorization Act.

§31-18E-2. Legislative findings.

    The Legislature finds and declares that:

    (1) Strong communities are important to the social and economic vitality of this state. Whether urban, suburban or rural, many communities are struggling to cope with vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties.

    (2) Citizens of this state are affected adversely by vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties, including properties which have been vacated or abandoned due to mortgage foreclosure.

    (3) Vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties impose significant costs on neighborhoods, communities, municipalities and counties by lowering property values, increasing fire and police protection costs, decreasing tax revenues and undermining community cohesion.

    (4) Vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties contribute to blight, invite crime and pests and provide unsafe play spaces.

    (5) There is an overriding public need to confront the problems caused by vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties through the creation of new tools to enable municipalities and counties to turn vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent spaces into vibrant places.

    (6) Land trusts are one of the tools that municipalities and counties may use to facilitate the return of vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties to productive use.

§31-18E-3. Definitions.

    As used in this article:

    (1) “Board” means the board of directors of a land trust;

    (2) “Deconstruct” means to attempt to remove salvageable pieces of a housing unit prior to or as part of demolition or renovation;

    (3) “Financial institution” means a bank, savings association, operating subsidiary of a bank or savings association, credit union, association licensed to originate mortgage loans or an assignee of a mortgage or note originated by such an institution;

    (4) “Land trust” means a public body established under this article;

    (5) “Land trust jurisdiction” means: (A) A county or municipality in this state; or (B) two or more municipalities or counties that enter into an intergovernmental cooperation agreement to establish and maintain a land trust;

    (6) “Municipality” means a municipality as defined in section two, article one, chapter eight of this code; and

    (7) “Real property” means all lands, including improvements and fixtures on them and property of any nature appurtenant to them or used in connection with them and every estate, interest and right, legal or equitable, in them, including terms of years and liens by way of judgment, mortgage or otherwise, and indebtedness secured by the liens.

§31-18E-4. Creation and existence.

    (a) Authority. -- A land trust jurisdiction may elect to create a land trust by the adoption of an ordinance to create a binding legal obligation. The ordinance must specify the type of entity created and the following:

    (1) The name of the land trust;

    (2) The number of members of the board;

    (3) The names of individuals to serve as initial members of the board;

    (4) The qualifications, manner of selection or appointment and terms of office of members of the board;

    (5) The manner by which residents will be provided an opportunity to have input into the land trust decision-making process; and

    (6) Additional terms and conditions the land trust jurisdiction deems reasonable and necessary for operation of the land trust that are not inconsistent with this article.

    (b) Filing. -- The governing body of the land trust jurisdiction which creates a land trust shall file a copy of the ordinance with the West Virginia Housing Development Fund and with the Secretary of State. After receipt of the ordinance, the Secretary of State shall issue the appropriate documentation indicating the formation of the entity.

    (c) Combinations.--(1) The authority under subsection (a) of this section may be exercised in combination pursuant to an intergovernmental cooperation agreement by:

    (A) More than one land trust jurisdiction; or

    (B) A land trust jurisdiction and one or more municipalities or counties.

    (2) If a land trust is established under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the intergovernmental cooperation agreement must specify matters identified in subsection (a) of this section.

    (d) Limitation. -- Except as set forth in subsection (c) of this section, if a county establishes a land trust, the land trust may acquire real property only in those portions of the county located outside of the geographical boundaries of any other land trust established by another land trust jurisdiction located partially or entirely within the county.

    (e) Legal status of land trust. -- A land trust:

    (1) Is a public body corporate and politic, exercising public and essential governmental functions, and having all the powers necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this article; and

    (2) Exists until terminated and dissolved under section fourteen of this article.

    (f) Collaboration. -- A land trust, a political subdivision and another municipal entity may enter into an intergovernmental cooperation agreement relative to the operations of a land trust.

§31-18E-5. Board of directors of a land trust.

    (a) Membership. -- A board shall consist of an odd number of members and be not less than five members nor more than eleven members. Unless restricted by the actions or agreements specified in section four of this article and subject to the limits stated in this section, the size of the board may be adjusted in accordance with bylaws of the land trust.

    (b) Eligibility to serve on board. --

    (1) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a public officer is eligible to serve as a board member, and the acceptance of the appointment neither terminates nor impairs that public office;

    (2) A municipal employee is eligible to serve as a board member;

    (3) An established land trust board shall include at least one voting member who:

    (A) Is a resident of the land trust jurisdiction;

    (B) Is not a public official or municipal employee; and

    (C) Maintains membership with a recognized civic organization within the land trust jurisdiction;

    (4) A member removed under subdivision (3), subsection (d) of this section is ineligible for reappointment to the board unless the reappointment is confirmed unanimously by the board;

    (5) As used in this subsection, the term “public officer” means an individual who is elected to office.

    (c) Officers. -- The members of the board shall select annually from among their members a chair, vice chair, secretary, treasurer and other officers as the board determines.

    (d) Rules. -- The board shall establish rules on all of the following:

    (1) Duties of officers;

    (2) Attendance and participation of members in its regular and special meetings;

    (3) A procedure to remove a member by a majority vote of the other members for failure to comply with a rule; and

    (4) Other matters necessary to govern the conduct of a land trust.

    (e) Vacancies. -- A vacancy on the board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. Upon removal under subdivision (3), subsection (d) of this section, the position becomes vacant.

    (f) Compensation. -- Board members serve without compensation. The board may reimburse a member for expenses actually incurred in the performance of duties on behalf of the land trust.

    (g) Meetings. -- (1) The board shall meet as follows:

    (A) In regular session according to a schedule adopted by the board;

    (B) In special session:

    (i) As convened by the chair; or

    (ii) Upon written notice signed by a majority of the members;

    (2) A majority of the board, excluding vacancies, is a quorum. Physical presence is required under this paragraph.

    (h) Voting.--(1) Except as set forth in subdivision (2) or (3) of this subsection or elsewhere in this article, action of the board must be approved by the affirmative vote of a majority of the board present and voting.

    (2) Action of the board on the following matters must be approved by a majority of the entire board membership:

    (A) Adoption of bylaws;

    (B) Adoption of rules under subsection (d) of this section;

    (C) Hiring or firing of an employee or contractor of the land trust. This function may, by majority vote of the entire board membership, be delegated by the board to a specified officer or committee of the land trust;

    (D) Incurring of debt;

    (E) Adoption or amendment of the annual budget; or

    (F) Sale, lease, encumbrance or alienation of real property or personal property with a value of more than $50,000.

    (3) A resolution under section fourteen of this article, relating to dissolution of a land trust, must be approved by two thirds of the entire board membership.

    (4) A member of the board may not vote by proxy.

    (5) A member may request a recorded vote on any resolution or action of the land trust.

    (i) Immunity. -- A land trust jurisdiction which establishes a land trust and a municipality or county which are parties to an intergovernmental cooperation agreement establishing a land trust shall not be liable personally on the bonds or other obligations of the land trust. Rights of creditors of a land trust are solely against the land trust.

§31-18E-6. Staff of the land trust.

    (a) Employees. -- A land trust may employ or enter into a contract for an executive director, counsel and legal staff, technical experts and other individuals and may determine the qualifications and fix the compensation and benefits of those employees.

    (b) Contracts. -- A land trust may enter into a contract with a municipality or county for:

    (1) The municipality or county to provide staffing services to the land trust; or

    (2) The land trust to provide staffing services to the municipality or county.

§31-18E-7. Powers of the land trust.

    A land trust is a public body, corporate and politic, exercising public and essential governmental functions, and having all the powers necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this article, including but not limited to the following:

    (1) To adopt, amend and repeal bylaws for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of its business;

    (2) To sue and be sued in its own name and be a party in a civil action. This paragraph includes an action to clear title to property of the land trust;

    (3) To adopt a seal and to alter the same at pleasure;

    (4) To borrow from federal government funds, from the state, from private lenders or from municipalities or counties, as necessary, for the operation and work of the land trust;

    (5) To issue negotiable revenue bonds and notes according to the provisions of this article;

    (6) To procure insurance or guarantees from the federal government or the state of the payment of debt incurred by the land trust and to pay premiums in connection with the insurance or guarantee;

    (7) To enter into contracts and other instruments necessary, incidental or convenient to the performance of its duties and the exercise of its powers. This paragraph includes intergovernmental cooperation agreements for the joint exercise of powers under this article;

    (8) To enter into contracts and intergovernmental cooperation agreements with municipalities or counties for the performance of functions by municipalities or counties on behalf of the land trust or by the land trust on behalf of municipalities or counties;

    (9) To make and execute contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers of the land trust. Any contract or instrument signed shall be executed by and for the land trust if the contract or instrument is signed, including an authorized facsimile signature, by:

    (A) The chair or vice chair of the land trust; and

    (B) Either:

    (i) The secretary or assistant secretary of the land trust; or

    (ii) The treasurer or assistant treasurer of the land trust;

    (10) To procure insurance against losses in connection with the real property, assets or activities of the land trust;

    (11) To invest money of the land trust at the discretion of the board in instruments, obligations, securities or property determined proper by the board and to name and use depositories for its money;

    (12) To enter into contracts for the management of, the collection of rent from or the sale of real property of the land trust;

    (13) To design, develop, construct, demolish, reconstruct, deconstruct, rehabilitate, renovate, relocate and otherwise improve real property or rights or interests in real property;

    (14) To fix, charge and collect rents, fees and charges for the use of real property of the land trust and for services provided by the land trust;

    (15) To grant or acquire licenses, easements, leases or options with respect to real property of the land trust;

    (16) To enter into partnerships, joint ventures and other collaborative relationships with municipalities, counties and other public and private entities for the ownership, management, development and disposition of real property;

    (17) To organize and reorganize the executive, administrative, clerical and other departments of the land trust and to fix the duties, powers and compensation of employees, agents and consultants of the land trust; and

    (18) To do all other things necessary or convenient to achieve the objectives and purposes of the land trust or other law related to the purposes and responsibility of the land trust.

§31-18E-8. Eminent domain.

    A land trust does not possess the power of eminent domain. Any property obtained by the power of eminent domain after the effective date of this article may not be acquired by a land trust by any means.

§31-18E-9. Acquisition of property.

    (a) Title to be held in its name. -- A land trust shall hold in its own name all real property it acquires.

    (b) Tax exemption. -- (1) Except as set forth in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the real property of a land trust and its income and operations are exempt from property tax.

    (2) Subdivision (1) of this subsection does not apply to real property of a land trust after the fifth consecutive year in which the real property is continuously leased to a private third party. However, real property continues to be exempt from property taxes if it is leased to a nonprofit or governmental agency at substantially less than fair market value.

    (c) Methods of acquisition. -- A land trust may acquire real property or interests in real property by any means on terms and conditions and in a manner the land trust considers proper.

    (d) Acquisitions from municipalities or counties. -- (1) A land trust may acquire real property by purchase contracts, lease purchase agreements, installment sales contracts and land contracts and may accept transfers from municipalities or counties upon terms and conditions as agreed to by the land trust and the municipality or county.

    (2) A municipality or county may transfer to a land trust real property and interests in real property of the municipality or county on terms and conditions and according to procedures determined by the municipality or county as long as the real property is located within the jurisdiction of the land trust.

    (3) An urban renewal authority, as defined in section four, article eighteen, chapter sixteen of this code, located within a land trust jurisdiction established under this article may, with the consent of the local governing body and without a redevelopment contract, convey property to the land trust. A conveyance under this subdivision shall be with fee simple title, free of all liens and encumbrances.

    (e) Maintenance. -- A land trust shall maintain all of its real property in accordance with the statutes and ordinances of the jurisdiction in which the real property is located.

    (f) Prohibition. -- (1) Subject to the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection, a land trust may not own or hold real property located outside the jurisdictional boundaries of the entities which created the land trust under subsection (c) of section four of this article.

    (2) A land trust may be granted authority pursuant to an intergovernmental cooperation agreement with a municipality or county to manage and maintain real property located within the jurisdiction of the municipality or county.

    (g) Acquisition of tax delinquent properties. -- Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, if authorized by the land trust jurisdiction which created a land trust or otherwise by intergovernmental cooperation agreement, a land trust may acquire an interest in tax delinquent property through the provisions of chapter eleven-a of this code. Notwithstanding the provisions of section eight, article three, chapter eleven-a of this code, if no person present at the tax sale bids the amount of the taxes, interest and charges due on any unredeemed tract or lot or undivided interest in real estate offered for sale, the sheriff shall, prior to certifying the real estate to the auditor for disposition pursuant to section forty-four, article three, chapter eleven-a of this code, provide a list of all of said real estate within a land trust jurisdiction to the land trust and the land trust shall be given an opportunity to purchase the tax lien and pay the taxes, interest and charges due for any unredeemed tract or lot or undivided interest therein as if the land trust were an individual who purchased the tax lien at the tax sale.

§31-18E-10. Disposition of property.

    (a) Public access to inventory. -- A land trust shall maintain and make available for public review and inspection an inventory of real property held by the land trust.

    (b) Power. -- A land trust may convey, exchange, sell, transfer, lease, grant or mortgage interests in real property of the land trust in the form and by the method determined to be in the best interests of the land trust.

    (c) Consideration. -- (1) A land trust shall determine the amount and form of consideration necessary to convey, exchange, sell, transfer, lease as lessor, grant or mortgage interests in real property.

    (2) Consideration may take the form of monetary payments and secured financial obligations, covenants and conditions related to the present and future use of the property, contractual commitments of the transferee and other forms of consideration as determined by the board to be in the best interest of the land trust.

    (d) Policies and procedures. -- (1) A board shall determine and state in the land trust policies and procedures the general terms and conditions for consideration to be received by the land trust for the transfer of real property and interests in real property, including but not limited to, a process for distribution of any proceeds to any claimants, taxing entities and the land trust.

    (2) Requirements which may be applicable to the disposition of real property and interests in real property by municipalities or counties shall not be applicable to the disposition of real property and interests in real property by a land trust.

    (e) Ranking of priorities. -- (1) A land trust jurisdiction may establish a hierarchical ranking of priorities for the use of real property conveyed by a land trust, including use for:

    (A) Purely public spaces and places;

    (B) Affordable housing;

    (C) Conservation areas; and

    (D) Retail, commercial and industrial activities.

    (2) The priorities established may be for the entire land trust jurisdiction or may be set according to the needs of different neighborhoods, municipalities or other locations within the land trust jurisdiction, or according to the nature of the real property.

    (f) Land use plans. -- A land trust shall consider all duly adopted land use plans and make reasonable efforts to coordinate the disposition of land trust real property with the land use plans.

    (g) Specific voting and approval requirements. -- (1) A land trust jurisdiction may, in its ordinance creating a land trust or in the case of multiple land trust jurisdictions and municipalities or counties creating a single land trust in the applicable intergovernmental cooperation agreement, require that a particular form of disposition of real property or a disposition of real property located within specified jurisdictions be subject to specified voting and approval requirements of the board.

    (2) Except as restricted or constrained under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the board may delegate to officers and employees the authority to enter into and execute agreements, instruments of conveyance and other related documents pertaining to the conveyance of real property by the land trust.

§31-18E-11. Financing of land trust operations.

    (a) General rule. -- A land trust may receive funding through grants and loans from:

    (1) The federal government;

    (2) The state;

    (3) A municipality or county;

    (4) The land trust jurisdiction which created the land trust; and

    (5) Private or other public sources.

    (b) Funding. -- A land trust may receive and retain payments for services rendered, for rents and leasehold payments received, for consideration for disposition of real and personal property, for proceeds of insurance coverage for losses incurred, for income from investments and for an asset and activity lawfully permitted to a land trust under this article.

    (c) Allocated real property taxes. -- (1) A taxing jurisdiction may authorize the remittance or dedication of a portion of real property taxes collected pursuant to the laws of this state to a land trust on real property conveyed by a land trust.

    (2) Allocation of property tax revenues in accordance with this subsection, if authorized by the taxing jurisdiction, begins with the first taxable year following the date of conveyance and continues for a period of up to five years and may not exceed a maximum of fifty percent of the aggregate property tax revenues generated by the property.

    (3) Remittance or dedication of real property taxes include the real property taxes of a county board of education only if the county board of education enters into an agreement with the land trust for the remittance or dedication.

§31-18E-12. Borrowing and issuance of bonds.

    (a) Authority. -- (1) A land trust may issue a bond for any of its corporate purposes.

    (2) The principal and interest of a bond is payable from the land trust's general revenue.

    (3) The bond may be secured by any of the following:

    (A) A pledge of revenue. This paragraph includes a grant or contribution from: (i) The federal government or a federal agency or instrumentality; or (ii) the state, a state agency or an instrumentality of the state; or

    (B) A mortgage of property of the land trust.

    (b) Nature. -- The bond is a negotiable instrument under the provisions of article eight, chapter forty-six of this code.

    (c) Tax exempt. -- A bond and the income from the bond is exempt from taxation by: (1) The state; and (2) a political subdivision.

    (d) Procedure. -- (1) A bond must be authorized by resolution of the board and shall be a limited obligation of the land trust.

    (2) The principal and interest, costs of issuance and other costs incidental to the bond are payable solely from the income and revenue derived from the sale, lease or other disposition of the assets of the land trust. The land trust may secure the bond by a mortgage or other security device covering all or part of the project from which the pledged revenues may be derived.

    (3) A refunding bond issued under this section:

    (A) Is payable from: (i) A source described in this article; or (ii) the investment of the proceeds of the refunding bonds; and

    (B) Is not an indebtedness or pledge of the general credit of a political subdivision within the meaning of a constitutional or statutory limitation of indebtedness and shall contain a recital to that effect.

    (4) A bond must comply with the authorizing resolution as to:

    (A) Form;

    (B) Denomination;

    (C) Interest rate;

    (D) Maturity; and

    (E) Execution.

    (5) A bond may be subject to redemption at the option of and in the manner determined by the board in the authorizing resolution.

    (e) Powers of municipalities or counties. -- A municipality or county may elect to guarantee, insure or otherwise become primarily or secondarily obligated on the indebtedness of a land trust, subject, however, to all other provisions of law of this state applicable to municipal or county indebtedness.

    (f) Sale. -- (1) A bond shall be issued, sold and delivered in accordance with the terms and provisions of the authorizing resolution. The board, to effectuate its best interest, may determine the manner of sale, public or private, and the price of the bond.

    (2) The resolution issuing a bond must be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the jurisdiction in which the land trust is located.

    (g) Liability. -- (1) Neither the members of a land trust nor a person executing the bond shall be liable personally on the bonds by reason of the issuance of the bond.

    (2) The bond or other obligation of a land trust related to a bond shall not be a debt of a municipality, county or of the state. A statement to this effect shall appear on the face of the bond or obligation.

    (3) On the bond or other obligation of a land trust related to a bond, all of the following apply:

    (A) The state has no liability. This paragraph applies to the revenue and property of the state; and

    (B) A municipality or county has no liability. This paragraph applies to the revenue and property of a municipality or county.

§31-18E-13. Public records and public access.

    (a) Public records. -- A board shall keep minutes and a record of its proceedings.

    (b) Public access. -- A land trust is subject to article nine-a, chapter six of this code, relating to open meetings and chapter twenty-nine-b of this code, relating to public records.

§31-18E-14. Dissolution of land trust.

    (a) General rule. -- A land trust may be dissolved as a public body corporate and politic upon compliance with all of the following:

    (1) Sixty calendar days advance written notice of consideration of a resolution to request dissolution must be:

    (A) Given to the land trust jurisdiction which created the land trust;

    (B) Published in a local newspaper of general circulation; and

    (C) Sent by certified mail to the trustees of outstanding bonds of the land trust;

    (2) Satisfaction of all outstanding liabilities; and

    (3) Approval of a resolution requesting dissolution, pursuant to subdivision (3), subsection (h), section five of this article.

    (b) Authority. -- Upon receipt of a proper resolution described in subsection (a) of this section, the land trust jurisdiction which created the land trust may dissolve the land trust by adoption of an ordinance or order. If approved, the governing body of the land trust jurisdiction which created the land trust shall file a certified copy of the ordinance or order with the Secretary of State and notify the West Virginia Housing Development Fund of the dissolution of the land trust. The Secretary of State shall cause the termination of the existence of the land trust to be noted on the record of incorporation. Upon the filing, the land trust shall cease to function.

    (c) Transfer of assets. -- Upon dissolution of the land trust, real property, personal property and other assets of the land trust become the assets of the municipality in which the property is located or the county in which the property is located, if it is not within a municipality. The following apply:

    (1) Personal property, including financial assets, of the land trust shall be divided among participating land trust jurisdictions in proportion to the population of each jurisdiction.

    (2) The municipality in which real property is located or the county in which the property is located, if it is not within a municipality, shall approve the transfer of title to the municipality or county.

    (d) Multiple jurisdictions. -- If multiple land trust jurisdictions create a land trust under section four of this article, the withdrawal of one or more land trust jurisdictions does not require dissolution of the land trust unless:

    (1) The intergovernmental cooperation agreement provides for dissolution in this event; and

    (2) There is no land trust jurisdiction which desires to continue the existence of the land trust.

§31-18E-15. Conflicts of interest.

    (a) Ethics Act. -- The acts and decisions of members of a board and of employees of a land trust are subject to chapter six-b of this code.

    (b) Supplemental rules and guidelines. -- The board may adopt:

    (1) Supplemental rules addressing potential conflicts of interest; and

    (2) Ethical guidelines for members of the board and land trust employees.

§31-18E-16. Expedited quiet title proceedings.

    (a) Authorization. -- (1) A land trust may file an action in circuit court to quiet title to real property in which the land trust has an interest.

    (2) A land trust may join in a single complaint to quiet title to one or more parcels of real property.

    (3) For purposes of an action under this section, the land trust shall be deemed to be the holder of sufficient legal and equitable interests and possessory rights so as to qualify the land trust as an adequate complainant in the action.

    (b) Procedural requirements.--(1) Prior to the filing of an action to quiet title, the land trust must conduct an examination of title to determine the identity of any person possessing a claim or interest in or to the real property.

    (2) Service of the complaint to quiet title shall be provided in accordance with the requirements to serve a civil complaint generally, including that service to interested parties be made as follows:

    (A) By first class mail to the identity and address reasonably ascertainable by an inspection of public records;

    (B) In the case of occupied real property, by first class mail, addressed to “occupant”;

    (C) By posting a copy of the notice on the real property.

    (D) By publication; and

    (E) As ordered by the court.

    (3) As part of the complaint to quiet title, the land trust must file an affidavit identifying:

    (A) Persons discovered under subdivision (1) of this subsection; and

    (B) The form of service under subdivision (2) of this subsection.

    (c) Hearing.--(1) The court shall schedule a hearing on the complaint within ninety days following filing of the complaint and as to all matters upon which an answer was not filed by an interested party.

    (2) The court shall issue its final judgment within one hundred twenty days of the filing of the complaint.

§31-18E-17. Construction, intent and scope.

    This article shall be construed liberally to effectuate the legislative intent and the purposes as complete and independent authorization for the implementation of this article, and all powers granted shall be broadly interpreted to effectuate the intent and purposes and not as a limitation of powers.

§31-18E-18. Annual audit and report.

    (a) The land trust shall annually, within one hundred twenty days after the end of the fiscal year, submit an audit of income and expenditures, together with a report of its activities for the preceding year, to the West Virginia Housing Development Fund.

    (b) A duplicate of the audit and the report shall be filed with the governing body of:

    (1) The land trust jurisdiction which created the land trust; and

    (2) Each political subdivision which opted to participate in the land trust pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement.





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    (NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to improve housing development and land use in West Virginia by providing an option to all municipalities, counties or combinations to create a land trust program in order to eliminate blight and address vacant, delinquent or foreclosed properties.


    This article is new, therefore strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.)

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