As the US 31 Major Moves Project begins to take shape, affected businesses and property owners will need to become familiar with their rights and remedies under applicable eminent domain acquisition and relocation laws. Though the eminent domain (a/k/a condemnation) process is clearly defined under Indiana statutes, real property interest holders (including owners, lessees, etc.) need to understand fully the legal and practical aspects of the process to ensure that they are receiving fair compensation and appropriate relocation assistance, if applicable.
There are few grounds on which a landowner can successfully challenge a governmental entity’s acquisition of the landowner’s property for a public road project. Thus, a landowner may not be able to stop or alter the government’s decision to take property or how much is necessary for the project. This does not mean, however, that landowners (or other interest holders) are without rights. Even if the landowner does not wish to contest the taking of its property, the landowner does not have to accept the government’s purchase offer. If the landowner believes that the appraisal process results in an unsatisfactory determination of damages — which may include the value of the property taken and damages to the residue — the landowner is entitled to proceed to trial on the issue of valuation/damages.