The Indiana department of transportation is wanting to buy a portion of our property to improve a bridge and add drainage along a state road. The proposed piece comes in 45' to 65' feet from the center of the road. Many people have told us, including the INDOT rep, that they always ask for more than they actually need. We asked them to move the line back and propose the minimum amount that they need. We were told they could not do it with less. However, we got a revised proposal about a month later because they had to deal with the neighbor's septic field. They moved the line 8' closer to the road on a small portion of our property where it meets the neighbor, but not at all in the areas that we have expressed concern. And now the offer is $100 less. We know they are going to clear cut what they take, and we are trying to save some of the trees. Especially a couple of mature trees that are right on the line. So my question is... If we do not accept their offer, and they take us to court, what is the worst case scenario? Would we still get at least what they had offered us, or could they then subtract legal fees? We are assuming we could represent ourselves, and not incur legal expenses. The current offer is for $3700, which is more than the small claims court maximum.
Thank you in advance for your help.
1 Answer from Attorneys
The law of eminent domain (the right of the government to take your land for the common good) is complex and you should consult an experienced real estate attorney who practices in this area of law. Indiana has a new Eminent Doamin Law which was signed by Governor Daniels in October 2006. There is a summary of the law at: http://www.speedwaynavigator.com/V2I6/eminent-domain.pdf
but you are still advised to speak with an attorney personally about this matter.