Part 2.  Petition under Agreement for Construction.

156-26.  Procedure upon agreement.

(a)        Agreement; Names Filed. - Whenever a majority of the landowners or the persons owning three fifths of all the lands in any well-defined swamp or lowlands shall, by a written agreement, agree to give a part of the land situated in such swamp or lowlands as compensation to any person, firm, or corporation who may propose to cut or dig any main drainway through such swamp or lowlands, or shall, by written agreement, contract with any person, firm or corporation to cut or dig any main drainway through such swamp or lowlands, then the person, firm, or corporation so proposing to cut or dig such main drainway shall file with the clerk of the superior court of the county, or, if there be two or more counties, with the clerk of the superior court of either county in or through which the proposed canal or drainway is to pass, the names of the landowners, with the approximate number of acres owned by each to be affected by the proposed drainway who have entered into the written agreement with the person, firm, or corporation, together with a brief outline of the proposed improvement, and in addition thereto shall file with the clerk the names and addresses, as far as can be ascertained, of the landowners, with the number of acres owned by each of them to be affected by the proposed drainway, who have not made any agreement with the person, firm, or corporation proposing to do the improvement.

(b)        Notice. - Upon the filing of such names, it shall be the duty of the clerk to forthwith issue a notice which shall be served by the sheriff to all landowners who have not made any agreement to appear before him at a certain date, which date shall be not less than 10 and not more than 20 days from the service of such notice, or, in lieu of the personal service hereinabove required, it shall be sufficient for the clerk to publish in a newspaper published in the county once a week for four weeks a notice to all landowners who have not made any agreement to appear before him at a certain date, which date shall be not less than 30 days and not more than 40 days from the first publication of notice, at which time and place the landowners shall state their objections to the proposed improvement, and in addition thereto make an estimate of the amount of damage that might be done to the land owned by each of them on account of the proposed drainway.

(c)        Hearing; Viewers. - Upon the hearing it shall be the duty of the clerk of the superior court to forthwith appoint three disinterested persons, none of whom shall own land to be affected by such drainway, if requested by the person, firm, or corporation proposing to do the improvement, whose duty it shall be to familiarize themselves with the proposed improvement, view the premises of the landowners, estimating damages, and make an estimate themselves of the amount of damages that might accrue to the lands of each landowner filing objections on account of the proposed improvement, and report the same to the clerk of the superior court within 15 days from the date of their appointment.

(d)       Report; Bond. - Immediately upon the filing of the reports the clerk of the superior court shall forthwith notify the person, firm, or corporation proposing to dig the drainway or canal of the estimated damages contained in the reports, and the person, firm, or corporation shall execute and deliver a bond in a surety company authorized to do business in the State of North Carolina in twice the sum total of the estimated amount of damages, which bond shall be payable to the clerk of the superior court and conditioned upon the payment to the landowners of the amount of damages that may be assessed in the manner hereinafter provided.

(e)        Construction Authorized. - Upon the execution and delivery to the clerk of the said bond, the person, firm, or corporation so proposing to cut or dig such main drainway shall be and they are hereby authorized to proceed with the cutting or digging of the drainway through any lands in its proposed course, whether the owners of the land may have consented thereto or not, and the person, firm, or corporation so proposing to cut or dig the drainway shall have the proper and necessary right-of-way for that purpose and for all things incident thereto through any lands or timbers situated in such swamp or lowlands. (1917, c. 273, s. 1; C.S., s. 5284; 1969, c. 1046.)