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State may take Greene County property for I-69 project

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The state may take property in Greene County over the objections of the owners for construction of a portion of Interstate 69, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

Michael Patrick Knott and Andrew John Knott appealed the trial court issuance of an order of appropriation and appointment of appraisers regarding 11.236 of the 45 acres they owned in Greene County. The state filed the complaint in eminent domain proceedings to obtain the portion of the Knotts’ land.

The Knotts objected, claiming the state and the Indiana Department of Transportation acted illegally and in bad faith because the I-69 project is proceeding in violation of certain federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act. The state’s complaint originally contained a scrivener’s error, but it was corrected to include the Knotts’ parcel.

Greene Circuit Judge Erik C. Allen entered an order striking the Knotts’ objections and entered the order of appropriation.

Indiana’s eminent domain laws do not require the state to comply with the federal statutes cited by the Knotts in their objection prior to appropriating private property for public purpose, Judge James Kirsch wrote in Michael Patrick Knott and Andrew John Knott v. State of Indiana, 28A04-1203-PL-122.

Indiana Code 32-24-1-5.8 recognizes INDOT’s authority to acquire a parcel of land or property right for the construction of a state highway or toll road project. INDOT has the authority to acquire private or public property for limited access facilities and service roads based on I.C. 8-23-8-3. In addition, the federal statutes the Knotts cited in their objections don’t concern the acquisition of property but are related to collateral issues concerning the interstate project.

“INDOT’s judgment as to necessity of appropriating this land for the I-69 Project cannot be questioned or superseded by the judgment of this court,” he wrote. “While we affirm the State’s authority to take the Knotts’ property, we regret the hardship that this condemnation may cause the Knotts, notwithstanding the payment of just compensation.”



 

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