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Learn More About Your Property Rights With These I-69 Expansion FAQs

Jason Reese

I-69 Expansion Route Impacts Hoosier Property Rights

While the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) pushes the message that the final section of the long awaited, 142-mile I-69 extension route will provide significant safety improvement and a reduction in traffic congestion, it won’t do so without encroaching onto the property and livelihoods of homeowners, farmers and businesses found in between Martinsville and Indianapolis on Indiana Highway 37.

Much of the property found along this stretch of road will need to be uprooted to make room for large interchanges, on- and off-ramps, underpasses and overpasses, and a wider road with 400 feet of clearance across. Private property landowners will be approached under the law of eminent domain to allow the state to acquire their private property rights supported by the state’s defense of public interest. The sale cannot happen before property owners are compensated at fair market value though. For example, in a previous I-69 extension route from Bloomington to Martinsville, the state paid $47.4 million for 152 properties. Regardless of how much compensation landowners are offered, it remains of the highest importance that Hoosiers understand their rights as a property owner in Indiana.

Answers To Help You

Who determines the offer or “just compensation” for the property to be acquired?

Through a two-step process, an agency determines the just compensation amount to be offered to the property owner. An appraiser will research the real estate market and present an appraisal for the fair market value. A review appraiser then evaluates that appraisal and recommends an amount for an agency official to approve as the agency’s estimate of just compensation. For some uncomplicated, low value acquisitions, the agency may determine an appraisal is not required and prepare a waiver valuation that will be the basis upon which an agency official will approve the offer or just compensation.

What if the owner doesn’t agree with the amount offered? Is condemnation the only solution when an agency can’t reach agreement on the purchase of the property for the project?

No. There is a possibility of an administrative settlement. INDOT may approve the use of an administrative settlement if it is deemed reasonable and a higher value is supported. Administrative settlements require an owner to provide written support if a higher value is requested. If all efforts to negotiate or settle fail, the acquisition parcel will be forwarded for condemnation proceedings. Efforts will continue throughout the condemnation process to negotiate a settlement.

Can property owners provide their own appraisal to the acquiring agency?

Yes. INDOT will consider all relevant information in its negotiations with property owners.

Who are qualified appraisers?

State licensed appraisers that have passed the INDOT appraisal exam are deemed to be qualified right-of-way appraisers. Qualifications for a review appraiser include 5 years of documented right-of-way appraisal experience, a Certified General appraisal license from the State licensing agency, and passing the INDOT review appraiser exam.

Understanding Indiana Property Owner Rights and Eminent Domain

Government agencies on all levels possess the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain has been reaffirmed by the Indiana legislature in the form of Indiana laws. Both the 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution provide for taking of private property for public use only after the landowners receives “just compensation.” The amount of just compensation depends upon the fair market value of or reduction in the value of the property involved in the taking.

In the case of the I-69 route, INDOT says they have already contacted or will be contacting impacted landowners with a formal request for an in-person meeting. At this meeting, a state representative will be assigned to guide the land-taking process. A third-party appraiser will then value the property, which will be reviewed by a second appraiser and a fair price must then be presented to the current land owner. Not only may there be compensation for basic rights in real estate, but also for loss of improvements, such as buildings, fences, crops, and woodlands.

A Team of Lawyers Available to Help You

If you have been informed by a representative that has the authority to buy or use your land for the I-69 expansion project, we want to help you understand the process and your rights as a property owner from the beginning. Additionally, if you have received a purchase offer and a negotiation or agreement is not possible, then a condemnation lawsuit will be set into motion and a court will may set the price. At this time, you will need to be represented by counsel. Testimony from professional appraisers and due consideration to both sides will be a part of this lengthy legal disagreement. Although the land purchase cannot be denied, the rights of the landowners must be protected with the help of one of our team by their side.

Involving an attorney early in the process will only help protect your property owner rights and often results in a higher negotiated settlement before litigation. The time is now to contact the members of the specialized I-69 legal team from Foley Peden & Wisco, Church Church Hittle + Antrim, and Wagner Reese to schedule your free consultation with an expert attorney by calling (888) 204-8440.

The Lawyers and Professionals Who Can Help

Hoosiers impacted by the I-69 expansion route can benefit from a team of experienced Indiana lawyers ready to fight for them. The team is partnering with appraiser, John Snell of Snell Real Estate Investment Company. Our fee structure is contingent and also provides that we will not charge any fee on the State’s initial offer to you. We only get paid a percentage (usually 33 1/3 %) of any increased offer or jury award above the state’s offer. There is nothing to lose by hiring our team.

Foley Peden & Wisco, P.A.

Ralph Foley is a lifetime resident of Martinsville. He has served the community as a state representative as well as a partner at Foley, Foley & Peden, P.A., since 1965, and has received numerous honors and awards, including a Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana Chamber of Commerce “Champion of Small Business,” and Honorary Kentucky Colonel.

Mark Peden is a graduate of Indiana University Law School, Mark has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, and the Indiana Supreme Court. Mark handles all types of civil litigation.

Jim Wisco graduated from Martinsville High School and went on to obtain Master of Public Affairs as well as a Law degree from IU in Indianapolis. Jim joined Foley, Foley & Peden, P.A., in 2014 after previously practicing at his own law firm in Indianapolis.

Church Church Hittle + Antrim

Michael Antrim has been a lawyer with the Hamilton County law firm of Church Church Hittle & Antrim since his admission to the bar in 1975. He became a partner in 1977 and handles all types of civil litigation including real estate and eminent domain cases.

Wagner Reese

Stephanie Cassman earned her law degree from Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. She has been recognized as a top-rated litigation attorney and listed on the Top 50 Attorneys and Top 25 Women by Indiana Super Lawyers in 2016 and 2017. In 2015, Stephanie received the honor of being named by her peers as the Indiana Defense Lawyer of the Year.

Stephen Wagner graduated from Notre Dame cum laude before receiving his J.D. cum laude from the Indiana School of Law – Bloomington in 1994. Steve has been a partner at Wagner Reese, LLP since 1997 when he founded the firm. He has been selected as an Indiana Super Lawyer from 2004—2017, and was also selected by the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association as the 2006 Indiana Trial Lawyer of the Year.

Call us today at (888) 204-8440 and allow a team of experienced Indiana lawyers and appraisers work to protect your property owner rights.

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