JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Virginia (C&P) was required to relocate some of its telephone transmission facilities by reason of a street realignment. It sought compensation from petitioner Norfolk Redevelopment
The Relocation Act provides that any person "displaced" from his home or place of business by a federal or federally funded project is entitled to relocation benefits, including reimbursement for the "actual reasonable expenses in moving himself, his family, business, farm operation, or other personal property." 42 U. S. C. § 4622(a)(1). The Act by its terms binds only federal agencies; but a federal agency may not provide funds for state projects involving condemnation without first receiving "satisfactory assurances" that displaced persons will be given such relocation payments and assistance "as are required to be provided by a Federal agency" under the Act. 42 U. S. C. § 4630. In order to qualify for federal funds, therefore, many States, such as Virginia, see Va. Code § 25-235 et seq. (1980 and Supp. 1983), have adopted legislation modeled on the Relocation Act.
NRHA is a political subdivision of the State of Virginia, located in the city of Norfolk. During the 1960's, NRHA began four redevelopment projects in Norfolk for which federal funds were provided under the urban renewal program contained in Title I of the Housing Act of 1949, 63 Stat. 414, 42 U. S. C. § 1450 et seq. (1976 ed. and Supp. V).
C&P is a privately owned utility company engaged in the business of selling telephone and other telecommunication services in the city of Norfolk and throughout Virginia. To serve its customers, C&P had placed telephone transmission facilities, including manholes, conduits, cables, and accessory fittings, within the public rights-of-way of certain streets throughout Norfolk, including streets within the urban renewal project areas.
C&P sought reimbursement from NRHA for the expenses it incurred in this relocation, claiming that it was a "displaced person" within the meaning of the Relocation Act.
We granted certiorari to review the judgment of the Court of Appeals. 459 U.S. 1145 (1983). We now reverse. Our analysis of the statute and its legislative history convinces us that in passing the Relocation Act Congress addressed the needs of residential and business tenants and owners, and did not deal with the separate problem posed by the relocation of utility service lines. We hold, therefore, that the Relocation Act did not change the long-established common-law principle that a utility forced to relocate from a public right-of-way must do so at its own expense; it is not a "displaced person" as that term is defined in the Act.
Under the traditional common-law rule, utilities have been required to bear the entire cost of relocating from a public right-of-way whenever requested to do so by state or local authorities. 12 E. McQuillin, Law of Municipal Corporations § 34.74a (3d ed. 1970); 4A J. Sackman, Nichols' Law of Eminent Domain § 15.22 (rev. 3d ed. 1981). This rule was recognized and approved by this Court as long ago as New Orleans Gas Light Co. v. Drainage Comm'n of New Orleans, 197 U.S. 453, 462 (1905) (holding that the injury sustained by the utility is damnum absque injuria).
It is a well-established principle of statutory construction that "[t]he common law . . . ought not to be deemed to be repealed, unless the language of a statute be clear and explicit for this purpose." Fairfax's Devisee v. Hunter's Lessee, 7
The passage of the Relocation Act in 1970 ended a decade of close consideration of the problems faced by persons displaced by federal and federally funded projects. See Alexander v. United States Dept. of HUD, 441 U.S. 39, 49 (1979). The principal sponsor of the bill, Senator Muskie, noted that over 50 federal programs resulted in condemnation proceedings and that the victims of such proceedings received widely varying treatment. "Nearly all federally assisted programs have differing, if not conflicting, provisions for helping those displaced. They range from no assistance in some cases to liberal benefits and protection in others." 115 Cong. Rec. 31533 (1969). In part, the Uniform Relocation Act was passed, as its name suggests, simply to ensure uniform treatment of persons displaced by condemnation.
Another, equally important, purpose of the Act was to ensure that persons displaced by federal and federally funded programs would "not suffer disproportionate injuries as a result of programs designed for the benefit of the public as a whole." 42 U. S. C. § 4621. Under traditional concepts of eminent domain, a homeowner would receive only the market
In pursuit of both equity and uniformity, Congress relied heavily on prior legislation governing specific federal programs. For the relocation provisions at issue here, Congress adopted as its principal model the relocation provisions in § 501 through § 511 of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 (1968 Highway Act), Pub. L. 90-495, 82 Stat. 830-835. The legislative history is explicit that the Relocation Act was designed to extend the coverage of that pre-existing program to all federal agencies, with modifications "only as necessary to achieve a system of requirements and aids that can be applied uniformly in all Federal and federally assisted programs." S. Rep. No. 91-488, supra, at 2. See also H. R. Rep. No. 91-1656, supra, at 2; 115 Cong. Rec. 31534 (1969) (remarks of Sen. Mundt).
In divining congressional intent, therefore, it is instructive to note that the claims made by C&P in this case would not have been countenanced under the 1968 Highway Act. Utility relocation costs necessitated by federally funded highway projects were already specifically governed by a separate provision, 23 U. S. C. § 123, which predated and was left intact by the 1968 Act. Careful consideration of this provision demonstrates that Congress considered utility relocation as a problem separate and distinct from the plight of "displaced"
Title 23 U. S. C. § 123 had its origins in S. Rep. No. 1093, 83d Cong., 2d Sess., 12-13 (1954). In 1954, the Senate Committee on Public Works "heard considerable testimony from owners and operators of various public utilities concerning the heavy financial burden placed upon them when reconstruction or modernization of highways requires that their facilities be moved from their prior locations on the highway right-of-way." Id., at 12. But the Committee tentatively concluded that, since the question was governed by long-established state law, it was "neither feasible nor desirable for the Federal Government to give direction to those local relationships by force of application of Federal funds." Id., at 13.
The Committee did, however, authorize a study of the problem, and this study
In response to the 1956 Highway Act, a number of States passed legislation providing for reimbursement of the cost of relocating utility facilities for federal-aid highway projects.
The history of the Federal-Aid Highway Act from 1954 to 1968 shows, therefore, that Congress considered utility relocation costs and the expenses incurred by "displaced persons" to be separate and distinct problems calling for separate and distinct solutions. Congress showed that it was aware of the common-law rule that utilities must bear their own relocation expenses, and it proved unwilling, after extensive consideration and debate, to federalize the relations between utilities and state and local governments.
In the Relocation Act, Congress chose to deal with only one of these two problems. In modifying and extending § 501 through § 511 of the 1968 Highway Act, Congress was addressing the needs of residential and business tenants and owners, living and working in buildings that would be bulldozed by federal and federally funded programs. 115 Cong. Rec. 31533 (1969) (remarks of Sen. Muskie) (expressing his concern at "the bulldozing of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and businesses annually").
At no point in the extensive hearings,
Virginia has continuously recognized the common-law rule that a utility forced to relocate from a public right-of-way must do so at its own expense. In Potomac Electric Power Co. v. Fugate, 211 Va. 745, 747-748, 180 S.E.2d 657, 658-659 (1971), the Supreme Court of Virginia held that a franchise agreement, such as that between Norfolk and C&P, which allows a utility to place its facilities in public streets is revocable at will and confers no property right on the utility. Established practice under the franchise agreement between Norfolk and C&P was to the same effect. C&P has always in the past borne all costs of relocation and has included those
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is
JUSTICE POWELL took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
"The term `displaced person' means any person who, on or after January 2, 1971, moves from real property, or moves his personal property from real property, as a result of the acquisition of such real property, in whole or in part, or as the result of the written order of the acquiring agency to vacate real property, for a program or project undertaken by a Federal agency, or with Federal financial assistance; and solely for the purposes of sections 4622(a) and (b) and 4625 of this title, as a result of the acquisition of or as the result of the written order of the acquiring agency to vacate other real property, on which such person conducts a business or farm operation, for such program or project."
Section 114 was repealed by § 220(a)(5) of the Relocation Act, and HUD regulations have been extensively revised to reflect the new law. The regulation governing utility relocation costs, however, remains unchanged.