If the title to any part of the lands acquired by the United States government for the construction of such inland waterway from the Cape Fear River at Southport to the North Carolina-South Carolina State line shall be in any private person, company or corporation, railroad company, street railway company, telephone or telegraph company, or other public service corporation or shall have been donated or condemned or any public use by any political subdivision of the State, or if it may be necessary, for the purpose of obtaining the proper title to any lands, the title to which has heretofore been vested in the State Board of Education, then the Utilities Commission, in the name of the State of North Carolina, is hereby authorized and empowered, acting for and in behalf of the State of North Carolina, to secure a right-of-way 1,000 to 1,750 feet wide for said inland waterway across and through such lands or any part thereof, by purchase, donation or otherwise, through agreement with the owner or owners where possible, and when any such property is thus acquired, the Governor and Secretary of State shall execute a deed for the same to the United States; and if for any reason the said Commission shall be unable to secure such right-of-way across any such property by voluntary donation by and/or with the owner or owners, the said Commission acting for and in behalf of the State of North Carolina is hereby vested with the power to condemn the same, and in so doing, the ways, means, methods and procedure of the Chapter of the General Statutes of North Carolina, entitled "Eminent Domain," shall be used by it as near as the same is suitable for the purposes of this Article, and in all instances, the general and special benefits to the owner thereof shall be assessed as offsets against the damages to such property or lands.
As such condemnation proceedings might result in delay in the acquiring of title to all parts of the right-of-way and in the construction of the said inland waterway by the United States, said Utilities Commission is authorized to enter any of said lands and property and take possession of the same at the time hereinafter provided as needed for this use in behalf of the State or the United States government for the purposes herein set out, prior to the bringing of the proceeding for condemnation and prior to the payment of the money for such land or property under any judgment in condemnation. In the event the owner or owners shall appeal from the report of the commissioners appointed in any condemnation proceeding hereunder, it shall not be necessary for said Commission, acting in behalf of the State of North Carolina, or the United States government, to deposit the money assessed by said commissioners with the clerk.
Whenever proceedings in condemnation are instituted in pursuance of the provisions of this section, the said Commission upon the filing of the petition or petitions in such proceedings, shall have the right to take immediate possession, on behalf of the State, of such lands or property to the extent of the interest to be acquired and the order of the clerk of the superior court of the county where the action is instituted, shall be sufficient to vest the title and possession in the State through the Utilities Commission. The Governor and Secretary of State shall, upon vesting of the title and possession, execute a deed to the United States and said lands or property may then be appropriated and used by the United States for the purposes aforesaid: Provided, that in every case the proceedings in condemnation shall be diligently prosecuted to final judgment in order that the just compensation, if any, to which the owners of the property are entitled may be ascertained and when so ascertained and determined, such compensation, if any, shall be promptly paid as hereinafter in this Article provided.
If the United States government shall so determine, it is hereby authorized to condemn and use all lands and property which may be needed for the purposes herein set out and which is specifically described and set out in the paragraph next preceding, under the authority of said United States government, and according to the provisions existing in the federal statutes for condemning lands and property for the use of the United States government. In case the United States government shall so condemn said land and property, the said Utilities Commission is hereby authorized to pay all expenses of the condemnation proceedings and any award that may be made thereunder, out of the money which may be appropriated for said purposes.
All sums which may be agreed upon between the said Utilities Commission and the owner of any property needed by the United States government for said inland waterway and all sums which may be assessed in favor of the owner of any property condemned hereunder, shall constitute and remain a fixed and valid claim against the State of North Carolina until paid and satisfied in full, but the order of the clerk when entered in any condemnation proceeding shall divest the owner of the land condemned of all right, title, interest and possession in and to such land and property. (1931, c. 2, s. 2; 1937, c. 434.)