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Indiana House Bill 1260, which we first discussed here, has sailed through the Indiana legislature unopposed and is expected to be signed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, according to a report at NWI.com. The measure, which requires railroads to show that any use of eminent domain to take public property is for a “public use,” passed the Indiana House 96-0 and 46-0 in the Senate.
The change is an update to an eminent domain law passed in the 1880s that allowed railroads of any size to use eminent domain to seize privately owned property with virtually no limits.
This bill highlights one of the issues that is often contested in eminent domain disputes: What exactly is a “public use“? General speaking, a public use is one that would confer some benefit to the public. Some common examples of a permissible public use include the following:
-The construction of a school, public library, or hospital
-Road improvements or expansion
-Improvements to public utilities
-Pipelines and other infrastructure
Surprisingly to many landowners, a “public use” can even be the improvement of a piece of property by a private entity that would cause economic development. For example, if a commercial developer proposed using eminent domain to seize a piece of property that was sitting undeveloped, it may be approved. The rationale for this type of action is that commercial development can benefit the community as a whole by creating tax revenue, jobs, and general economic development.
When the state tries to take property by using its power of eminent domain, landowners can feel like there is nowhere to turn. Fortunately, there is help available. The eminent domain attorneys of Sever Storey are committed to helping landowners obtain the compensation to which they are legally entitled and fighting inappropriate uses of eminent domain. To schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at 888-318-3761 or send us an email through our online contact form.
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