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.
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.
If the owner and the agency cannot agree on a price, then a court will
often set the price. 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 an experienced attorney by their side.
Wagner Reese Can Help Indiana Property Owners
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 are the property owner and need to request a change
in the appraisal to ensure fair compensation for you and your family or
business, contact the legal team at Wagner Reese to schedule your free
consultation with one of our expert attorneys. Our services are free to
you until we secure your compensation.