A. Whenever the owner or operator of the business of mining, production and marketing coal, whose property has been acquired by the Commission, shall notify the Commission in writing, stating that he is in position to, and can and will resume operation and render normal service, and shall satisfy the Commission of the correctness of such statement or whenever in the judgment of the Governor the emergency declared by him no longer exists, the Commission shall restore the possession of the property so acquired by them to the owner or operator upon his request. In the event the Commission refuses such restoration of possession, the owner or operator shall have the right to have a rule issued requiring the Commission to show cause why such possession should not be restored and the court shall determine the matter as in this section provided.
B. Any such owner or operator shall be entitled to receive reasonable, proper and lawful compensation for the use of the properties so acquired by the Commonwealth and paid the same out of the state treasury. In the event the Commission has acquired such property by purchase, the owners upon reacquisition shall repay the purchase price less fair compensation for use of such property. In the event the Commission and the owner or operator are unable to agree upon the amount of such compensation either party in interest may file a petition in the circuit court for the county or city in which the property is located for the purpose of having the same judicially determined. The court shall, without a jury, hear such evidence and argument of counsel as may be deemed appropriate and render judgment thereon or may refer to a commissioner such questions as are considered proper and act upon the commissioner’s report as in other equity proceedings. An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any final judgment of the court rendered upon the provisions of this chapter.
Code 1950, § 45-153; 1950, p. 32; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-153; 1994, c. 28.