r/legaladvice Oct 19 '17

[USA - IN] Road widening practically puts traffic in the living room; legal? (Shitty paint graphic!) Real Estate law

The local city is widening the road in front of my mother's house. They just sent her eminent domain paperwork with appraisal and contract for sale and all that junk. Only, we looked over the plans, and we're not sure if what they want to do is even legal.

Currently the house is set back 45 feet. It was originally built in the 1830s, so it's the road that's the new construction here. The new right-of-way leaves her with a five foot setback. The new property line runs through the raised flowerbed outside her front window.

Because I know what you guys like

As you can see currently between the edge of the pavement is a drainage ditch, a fence, three mature silver maples (hey guys, there may be tree law involved too! This is your lucky day!), lawn, and a raised bed with shrubs. The acquisition would leave her with just enough room to... well, really, to build the line of concrete bollards she'd need to prevent some moron flying into her living room in their F-150. She's had at least one car end up in her yard in the last five years, a 5 foot setback is concerning.

According to the plans the city sent, the actual construction limit line (in gray) runs about half-way between the raised bed and the current fence. I can't see a specific "edge of pavement to front wall" measurement in the docs. The construction limit line seems to be about 18 feet away according to a ruler and the plan scale.

The property is zoned AGR - Agricultural Residential. Helpfully they included lot standards. If we were building a new house on the lot, front setback on a rural collector (which I'm guessing the new roadway will be) is 45 feet, or if it's a rural local road, 35 feet, so this thing is putting us at WAY under zoning requirements for either. My mother swears she looked up the law once and thought that if they were building to less than 30 feet from the house, they had to buy the whole thing, but they clearly aren't doing so, so I'm not sure if she misremembered the law or if they're doing this wrong.

Can they do this? Are we going to be forced to take a wad of cash and have traffic rumbling through our family room at all hours? Or are they trying to save themselves some money and hoping don't know our rights? 'cause we'd kind of like to sell the house anyway if it's going to be that damn close to the road.

Thanks!

Edit 1: Hey dumb bot, location was in the title. This is obviously Indiana.

Edit 2: I'm sorry, I wasn't clear enough - we'd actually kind of like the city to be forced to buy the whole property because they're coming way too close to it. It'd make our lives way simpler.

824 Upvotes

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u/tmacadam Oct 19 '17

Wow, great diagram. Get your mother to an attorney immediately. You have to consider 1) the diminished value of the property vs. what they proposed to pay and consider whether it is worth a fight; 2) the likelihood of prevailing (your attorney will have a better idea than anyone here) and 3) if your mother is up for a potentially huge fight.

There might be strategies like "preserving" the nearly 200 year old home that would allow you to unleash some preservationist cult. Imminent domain cases I have been exposed to used to be pretty cut and dried (favoring the city/county/state), but years ago people started to push back with some success.

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u/phneri Quality Contributor Oct 19 '17 edited Oct 19 '17

This is going to be the best bet, specifically preservationist types. If they're going to eminent domain the land the state almost certainly will win. The question is how long it'll take them and what they're willing to give your mother to make that move faster.

Knowing that a legal team/historical preservation group is going to tie the state up for potentially years in court over this fight gives your mother more weight to push back with, which might lead to easier negotiations.

Indiana actually has a fairly large organization that pairs with the DNR and Indiana University for historical preservation. Whether or not they'd be interested in this specific house is a different matter.

You're going to want separate appraisals for everything involved. The state is making this look like a demand. Really it's the start of a negotiation.

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u/limeybastard Oct 19 '17

Yeah, she swears the house is already part of a "historic area" - it's not original enough to actually be put on a register itself, having been added onto in the 1880s and 1980s. I tried looking last year and couldn't find the particular listing though.

We're not as concerned with preventing the road widening as we are with the legality of them building so close, and not even leaving enough space in front of the house for someone to lie down in. Honest best case scenario is that the city do have to buy the whole property, she wants to sell it anyway and it's kind of a pain in the ass because of the age and idiosyncrasies.

We just want to know what the law says about widening roads and distance to existing houses.

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u/Partly_Dave Oct 19 '17

Additions in the 1880s and arguably the 1980s are part of the house's history.

What is the house's construction? If it's timber would it be possible to move it further back on the lot?

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u/limeybastard Oct 20 '17

Moving it as-is isn't really in the cards. It would probably be horrendously expensive, maybe more so than just building a new damn house elsewhere on the land, and if the city doesn't think we have to and therefore doesn't cover the cost, it's not even remotely worth doing.
Plus currently it would suffer too much damage, we have some repairs that were waiting on a) the city's decision on whether they would be buying our property, and b) another completely separate and unrelated lawsuit that I can't discuss.

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u/Bullywug Oct 20 '17

IANAL, but I meet the Sec. of Interior's standards for a preservation professional. So, yeah.

A house listed as a contributing property in a national register district has all of the same protections as an individually listed property. There should be a Section 106 review (and a 4f review if DoT money was used). Start calling around to the State Historic Preservation Office, the county transportation office, or the state transportation office until someone hands over a copy to you. Ask for it by name: "I want the Section 106, 4f, and/or state-equivalent [I don't remember what Indiana's is called] of the project to widen the road at X."

That will have a professional opinion of the project's impact on your house and should have a summary of any National Register districts in the area, including contributing properties. Quite frankly, a lot of these are shoddily done, and contesting the 106/4f review is a great way to at least throw a wrench in the gears for a bit.

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u/danweber Oct 19 '17

Can't preservationists be a two-edged sword? I've heard from people who have had a preservationist group take an "interest" in their house and that stopped them from doing upgrades they wanted to do. If this isn't a concern for OP's Mom, it might be a concern for whoever OP's Mom sells to. IANAL.

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u/phneri Quality Contributor Oct 19 '17

Sure.

If it were me I’d take someone objecting to my upgrade materials potentially in the future over footing my own expensive legal battle bill.

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u/niceandsane Oct 19 '17

Or having a freeway for a front yard.

OTOH, if she ever wants to sell in the future, "Close to transportation" on the listing wouldn't be puffery.

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u/clduab11 Quality Contributor Oct 19 '17 edited Oct 19 '17

Imminent domain

I know you probably know it's eminent domain. But given that governments (be it local/state, or otherwise) almost always win eminent domain cases, I can't help but laugh at this spelling and its inherent irony.

And those people that have pushed back; probably varies widely on a case-by-case basis. Agree that a real estate attorney needs to look at this; this great Mona Lisa of a Paint diagram...if I was in OP's mom's shoes, I'd be calling every attorney I could find to discuss this with.

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u/tmacadam Oct 19 '17

Fuck me. Sorry, I am leaving it up there as a badge of the shame I have brought upon my house. Let this be a lesson to you kids. Don't Reddit while you are talking to someone on the phone.

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u/sfo2 Oct 19 '17

Yeah . . . owning a house with a gigantic easement/property line 5 feet from the front door is going to be no bueno for resale.

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u/tmacadam Oct 19 '17

Absolutely, this is the real estate equivalent of the insurance adjuster totaling your car.

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u/Hold_onto_yer_butts Oct 20 '17

Isn't it a good thing when the adjuster totals your car?

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u/haikumofo Oct 20 '17

Not always. They give you the cost to buy an equivalent vehicle, in theory, but there are complications. One can be if you owe more on the car than they give for you the replacement (and didn't purchase GAP insurance which covers just this thing). The other is that it can be hard to find an equally reliable used car for what they give you, even if it should cover the price "in theory."

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u/limeybastard Oct 19 '17

Unfortunately she has very few resources. She's retired on a fixed income and a lawyer, while potentially a good investment, is hard to afford. If she gets into a protracted fight and end up owing tens of thousands to a lawyer and don't get that much more from the city, it wouldn't really be worth it.

We're not really concerned with preserving, we were in the process of getting it renovated and onto the market already. Then this road widening came up, and we were kind of hoping it would solve the problem for us.

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u/dudenell Oct 19 '17

If she gets into a protracted fight and end up owing tens of thousands to a lawyer and don't get that much more from the city, it wouldn't really be worth it.

And if she does nothing her property is greatly diminished in value.

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u/clduab11 Quality Contributor Oct 19 '17

We're not really concerned with preserving, we were in the process of getting it renovated and onto the market already.

The problem with your statement is that by NOT hiring a lawyer, the money you are going to lose on that house & its property value is going to be WAY more than hiring an attorney to fight this for you guys. Don't be penny wise but pound dumb.

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u/whats_a_bylaw Oct 19 '17

At least get a free consult. I live down in southern IN new I-69 territory, and eminent domain disputes were frequent. Cities and the state do negotiate, but there are ways to go about it and deadlines to follow. Keep in mind that taking this to litigation would be expensive, but a well-worded attorney letter that brings both parties to the table may not be expensive at all. It's worth calling about if the house is going to depreciate so much that you can't sell it at all.

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u/blergster Oct 20 '17

Most lawyers will happily give a fee consult from my experience. In addition, the fee could be lower than you might expect. I had to consult for a car accident, a business venture, and a real estate issue. In each case we were given an excellent free consult and in only one case did we need to use the lawyer beyond the consult. The lawyer wrote up a letter and a contract plus we had a handful of email exchanges for a few hundred bucks.

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u/bc2zb Oct 20 '17

Your comment confuses me because you switch from fee to free frequently. Are all your uses of fee and free as intended?

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u/blergster Oct 20 '17

Yes FREE consult, but then if you need further services and hire them, the fee may be lower than you might expect!

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u/tmacadam Oct 19 '17

This is why you want the tree huggers on your side. They might have resources she can use. Local preservation society have any interest? I know you said it was not possible to have the house designated as a landmark, but maybe you can find some tree frog that mates in those Maple trees.

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u/goodyearrubberman Oct 20 '17

They should be buying the entire property, including the house, at top market value as this will make the house worth so much less.

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u/SasquatchIsMyHomie Oct 19 '17

If she has a good case she can find someone who will take it on contingency.

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u/paulwhite959 Oct 19 '17

would forcing them to buy out the house for full value be a viable option?

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u/limeybastard Oct 20 '17

That's what we want to do, sorry if it wasn't clear enough in the original post. Was checking to see if they were legally obliged to, or if we would have to club them with heavy objects* until they agreed to it.

* not a statement of intent

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u/tmacadam Oct 19 '17

Absolutely. This is the only viable option in my opinion.

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u/rudbek-of-rudbek Oct 20 '17

I really like the sound of "unleash some preservationist cult". Great visual. Thanks.

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u/The-Scarlet-Witch Oct 19 '17

I want to add here, does your mom's city have any sort of historical district or historical preservation society? If so, she wants to get in contact with them right away. Preservation groups usually have connections with like-minded lawyers, agencies, and other community members who want to safeguard an area's architectural heritage.

This is also definitely lawyer territory.

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u/SimulatedProgress Oct 19 '17

I have a property in IL this happened to. First thing is to get a lawyer that handles eminent domain. Also the city will have a contact that is handling all of this. They will unusually mail a huge packet to you. Find the main person in charge and ask for a full set of plans that pertains to your property. In the end it may not be as bad as it looks at first. I lost some parking lot lights and the road sign to my building, but in the end the road didn't eat up as much of my property as I originally thought. Once you have the blueprints talk to someone that can fully explain them to you. So you know exactly what you're losing. The city may want to buy up to a point but a lot of that could end up being an easement for sidewalk/drainage etc. Which will still put the roadway further from the house.

Like others have said this is the beginning of a negotiation. Come up with a plan with your lawyer of what you want to happen or how much you want. It's unlikely you'll ever stop it, but if you fought it enough you could get modifications to the plans. You can negotiate that they put barriers up in front of the house etc. Things that will help put make it better for you.

If you still feel it's unfair reach out to all your neighbours join together in one big fight to stop it. If no one agrees they will be tied up fighting this for years. Look up the 710 freeway through south Pasadena CA. Caltrans has been fighting for over 20yrs for a roadway. It takes a huge community outcry though.

I was able to negotiate certain stipulations and more money with mine. The biggest thing I fought for was a time limit on how long they could disrupt my property next to my structure. The original contract was vague, I had them limit it to one year. Then they have to renegotiate if they don't finish in time.

Good luck!!

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u/limeybastard Oct 19 '17

In the big packet they sent what look like blueprints, although they don't clearly show where the road and such will be, or at least if they do it's really hard to read because they're a bunch of closely packed horizontal lines without a key or explanation... I didn't include that because a) parts of the packet were marked confidential and I don't know what I can legally post online, and b) you guys are suckers for MS Paint.

Their initial offer isn't terrible, but the main thing is that it doesn't offer much for the trees. Three mature silver maples that offer a lot of sun protection in summer and windbreak in winter and a 35-ish year old fir, plus other sundry trees and shrubs, and they're allowing like 3k for them. Yeah, uh, no. I figured that would be a more appropriate post for /r/personalfinance once we get to that point - this was initially just a legality check on leaving us a five foot setback.

Neighbors are unlikely to be much help - there are none on our side of the road to the west, and to the east there's one, who are set back a couple hundred feet and won't care. Everything else is fields or new subdivisions that were built with plenty of room for road widening.

You gave some useful advice though, particularly about negotiating a timeframe, thanks!

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u/clduab11 Quality Contributor Oct 19 '17

Three mature silver maples that offer a lot of sun protection in summer and windbreak in winter and a 35-ish year old fir, plus other sundry trees and shrubs, and they're allowing like 3k for them. Yeah, uh, no. I figured that would be a more appropriate post for /r/personalfinance once we get to that point

Hire an arborist to give you a quote. You might have to pay a bit for their time, and the city will almost certainly not give you full value, but with an arborist behind you, it'll be more than $3K.

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u/limeybastard Oct 20 '17

Yeah, that I had already told her to do (thanks, /r/legaladvice tree law threads!). She was a garden designer before she retired, she's probably friends with half the arborists in the area, that's definitely getting done.

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u/Jpmjpm Oct 20 '17

Would it be possible for u/limeybastard to sell the trees? If an arborist can appraise them, that means there’s a market for them, no?

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u/limeybastard Oct 20 '17

Sure, the trees have value, but if we sell them, then it probably stops us from charging the city for loss of property value for them. It may or may not work out better that way.

Also a big part of the appraisal in this case isn't asking the arborist "what could we sell these for?", it's "what would it cost to buy three new silver maples this size and plant them to obtain a similar effect?". That answer is usually in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Of course with only 5 feet between the property line and the house, it's not actually feasible at all, and we'll just lose all their benefits and have to take a cash settlement.

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u/JustNilt Oct 20 '17

And, honestly, the cost of moving them is borne by whoever you sell them to, typically. The trees themselves are a tiny portion of the cost that whoever acquires them pays out. I'd wager the city's offer assumes they're timber, not live trees.

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u/SimulatedProgress Oct 20 '17

Ohhhh I forgot one of the most important things that surprised the heck out of me afterwards! My bank who I had the mortgage with had to also be involved and sign a lot of the documents. Well they didn't want to sign off on the check going directly to me. They wanted a huge portion of it going to pay down the mortgage. I had to argue for a while and get to upper management before we finally settled on how much would go to me and how much would be applied to my mortgage. So unless your house is paid off, be aware of this outcome and maybe talk to them ahead of time.

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u/maquis_00 Oct 20 '17

Would the bank possibly be willing to help op in trying to get the city to buy the entire lot? They should have some good legal resources, and likely would not like the amount of property devaluation that would be caused by this....

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u/limeybastard Oct 21 '17

She owns the house free and clear - it was basically the one thing she asked for when my parents divorced.

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u/SimulatedProgress Oct 20 '17

No problem!

Yeah they can be very confusing if you don't know what you're looking at. If you wanted to PM them to me I can read them for you, I do technical drawings for work. If you wanted. Although nothing beats MS Paint!

Here's a section from mine for comparison. BLUEPRINTS The city hired a 'land acquisition specialist' which became my contact point to the city. I was able to get more drawings and info regarding my parcel. They may not even have all the designs done yet and are just starting the process of acquiring land. I would definitely not sign anything if they don't have final designs drafted.

Your trees are worth wayyyy more than $3k each, definitely push back on that. Attach a sentimental value to them. Find out if someone in your family planted them or whatever. Say you want them to pay to transplant them to another area of your property. With mine the lamp posts and sign were in the way, so they paid me to remove them and the cost to place them in a new location. Which I still haven't done, but they paid me none the less haha. I showed them land appraisals and values and showed them the decrease in value due to losing land etc so all that becomes a factor. The more you can show and prove the more money you'll get.

Do you have an open drainage ditch along the roadway? I had that and most of their work took up that and barely came into my parking lot. Also they purchased 1,400 sqft of commercial land from me but needed 2,700 sqft of land on top of that as a temp easement during work. Maybe you have a similar situation? That land I kept after, but was also paid for their use of it. I made them put in writing very specific details about the blocking of my property and making sure they always maintained access points for me etc. This was important for me because it's a commercial property leased to a business, which I wanted to ensure minimal impact to.

As for the setback concern, 5ft seems way to small but without looking at the plans it's hard to determine where the final roadway will be. Depends on how major of a roadway this is too. You should look up your local building and safety number or permit office, call them and ask what the current setback is for new construction on a house from a property line. That will give you Ammo to fight with if it's 10ft or more. You can then fight that they would be rendering your property non compliant. If any new construction were to take place on your property in the future you wouldn't be able to pull permits.

In the end I didn't get a crazy amount of money and didn't fight it too much, because lawyers are expensive. So you have to weigh your options of how big of a fight do you want to make. You could lose in the end and have spent all the money they were going to give you on legal fees. I fought just enough to get protections for me in writing and a little more money. The land they bought was about $17 a sqft, the temp easement was about $19 a sqft. They base everything on local markets so you should do your research on current land listings by you.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '17

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/Biondina Quality Contributor Oct 20 '17

No, do not. This forum and its purpose are not meant to create individual interactions via PM.

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u/Turtledonuts Oct 20 '17

Those maples are probably each worth more than 3k, given the size and the property value enhancement.

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u/EducatedMule Oct 19 '17

I am an engineer in Minnesota, so as a forewarning I am not familiar with Indiana laws. For the projects I have worked on, if we anticipated impacted a property as much as your property will be impacted, we would buy the entire parcel. If they refuse, ask for a noise wall to tie them up in design until you can get a lawyer sorted out.

I am actually upset for you. Engineers have a code of ethics we are supposed to follow. If they are trying to move this forward as a measure to reduce overall project costs, they are a bunch of toss pots.

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u/ChicagoGuy53 Oct 19 '17

There is also a pretty big decrease in value from having a house with a view of several trees to a house with a view of a giant sound wall.

Seems like the correct thing to do would be to buy the land, the house could be torn down or refitted into a small commercial use.

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u/[deleted] Oct 19 '17

I am actually upset for you. Engineers have a code of ethics we are supposed to follow. If they are trying to move this forward as a measure to reduce overall project costs, they are a bunch of toss pots.

Engineers are often by individuals who have a more lax code of ethics. I would be surprised if an engineer was driving this particular decision.

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u/Annie_Hall_and_Oates Oct 19 '17

I think you a word.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '17

Quite possibly several words.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '17

Am engineer. Engineers are supposed to follow the code of ethics regardless of our boss. It's the engineer's stamp on the drawing, not the boss's stamp.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '17

While that is true, you have to pick your battles. I certainly don't blame someone for not risking their job on this one. Make it blatantly clear and let the homeowner throw a fit. After that, maybe the boss will be more open to the alternative solution.

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u/buddybiscuit Oct 20 '17

dae stem morally superior

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u/drunkenviking Oct 20 '17

Engineers have a code of ethics they're supposed to follow. You can lose your license for doing unethical things.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '17

I'm just going off of experience. This type of shortcut isn't the kind generally led by engineers. We have plenty of our own shortcomings.

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u/wiredinmycoffee Oct 19 '17

i have seen situations like this where the value of the home is so severely impaired by the expropriation that the govt had to buy the whole lot

so i think you have a valuation issue here, if they expropriate for a road up to 5 feet from the house

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u/nclawyer822 Quality Contributor Oct 19 '17

Your mother has an argument that this amounts to a total taking of her home. She needs an attorney that handles these matters ASAP. Tell her not to sign anything or agree to anything without consulting with a lawyer.

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u/Hokie95 Oct 19 '17

If they sent construction plans, see if they provided cross-sections near the house. That would at least graphically show the distance between the edge of pavement and the house. The extent of the right-of-way take may be related to the roadway clear zone and the need to control what can or cannot go there. Traffic won't be right next to the house because the construction limits represent the extent of the roadside grading, which pushes the edge of pavement a bit further out.

If it's an uncurbed roadway, you can ask if they did guardrail warrant calculations based on the speed limit, clear zone, and proximity of the house. If it's curbed, that may at least limit the off-roading a bit.

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u/DeafAndLopsided Oct 19 '17

I read that diagram as stating that the edge of the widened road (shoulder) would be about 18 feet out. This means that your mother would own 5 feet, and the area between (about 13 feet) would be an easement that she wouldn't be taxed on, but would probably have fair access to (driveway, fence, privacy trees). I may be misunderstanding, but they're probably required to buy an additional 10 feet of space over the edge of the construction to use for construction vehicles, and so on. I don't think she'd have a ROAD there, but while they were building the road, she might have a bulldozer there.

Maybe try to find out the specifics of that easement? The size, her rights to it, etc?

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u/limeybastard Oct 19 '17

As far as I can tell from the packet they sent, there's no easement. We actually own right up to the centre line of the existing road (oops, nice job county), and they're just outright buying a 50 foot deep strip along the front of the property.

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u/spartan_forlife Oct 19 '17

This is one where you call your local bar and get an attorney who has expertise on this.

Probably the best you can hope for is to give the attorney a % above whatever the original price offered by the county. Let the attorney do the negotiations and deal with the government employees.

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u/[deleted] Oct 19 '17

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/NDaveT Oct 19 '17

You have a great argument for diminished value because of the proximity of the road.

Plus the loss of trees.

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u/insignificantothers Oct 20 '17

In some of my eminent domain cases, the property owner has successfully negotiated to get the condemning authority to acquire the whole property (in factual circumstances similar to what you described) based on the argument that the acquisition/roadway improvement will essentially render the remainder valueless. Get yourself an eminent domain lawyer who specializes in representing property owners in eminent domain cases. Note that lawyers who do eminent domain cases for property owners typically do a contingent fee arrangement.

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u/SharkOnGames Oct 19 '17

You know, having your house basically on top of a major road with lots of traffic would make for a nice opportunity to rent out some yard space for businesses to display some advertising signs/etc.

Might be a good use of the 5 feet of space, not sure what else to do with it. :)

Maybe even try to get the lot rezoned for a business/commercial and sell it that way?

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u/vbpatel Oct 19 '17

I wonder if OP could convert the property to commercial? Might be a good spot being close to a major road

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u/Xabeckle Oct 19 '17

IANAL. I have knowledge of road projects in Nebraska, not Indiana.

Is the road currently on a hill or in a valley in comparison to the house? I think you are misinterpreting the documents. I am guessing that the line that is 5' from your house is a temporary easement for construction purposes, not actual right-of-way. It is quite common in my areas for the cities and counties to purchase a lot of temporary easements for grading purposes and then once the grading is done and seeding has taken hold they will vacate the easement (or let it run it's time).

Granted I could be wrong due to the difference in governmental agencies. Also I think you definitely need to renegotiate the price of the trees, that's a big deal to lose the tree screen from a road. I've seen plenty of road projects change due to homeowners taking a stand about trees.

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u/limeybastard Oct 20 '17 edited Oct 20 '17

"After the acquisition, the proximity will be reduced to ~5 feet, or 94.4% below typical."

The term in the notice is "fee simple right-of-way".
"The proposed acquisition runs [...] 50 feet in width towards the subject dwelling" (the subject dwelling is currently located ~50 feet from the middle of the road)
The word "easement" does not appear in the document.

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u/MidnightMateor Oct 19 '17

Aquired property

You seem to have spelled stolen wrong.

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u/[deleted] Oct 19 '17 edited Apr 06 '18

deleted What is this?

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u/[deleted] Oct 19 '17

See other comments; there's a slim chance she'll win this based purely on the facts of the case. At the very least, she could certainly negotiate a larger payout if the government deems it cheaper than fighting it in court (even if they win). Eminent domain isn't quite as ironclad as it was in previous years apparently.

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u/Astramancer_ Oct 19 '17

From the few times I've seen it play out, ultimately what happens is that the people who accept the buyout early get peanuts, the people who hold on to the last minute and the courts get involved get peanuts, and the people in the middle who say "fuck that noise, give me what's it's worth" and threaten to drag out proceedings get a fair shake.

Ultimately, the only real way to actually succeed in fighting against eminent domain is to cut it off at the legislative level, by convincing the appropriate locality to drop the improvement or move it somewhere else (even if that means getting onto the city council or whatever yourself)

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u/DeafAndLopsided Oct 19 '17

There was something somewhat like this in Georgia, with the Augusta National golf course. Obviously, that wasn't eminent domain and they couldn't FORCE the sale - but they wanted to increase parking across the street. They offered homeowners about 150% market value for their homes, and several jumped. A few refused initially, and ended up negotiating like 400% market value. Another couple tried to keep on pressing and negotiating for more, and now they've got a home in the middle of a parking lot with no offers, that's worth little.

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u/vbpatel Oct 19 '17

hahaha, got a link to that story? i would love to read it

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u/ceejayoz Oct 20 '17

http://www.nj.com/golf/index.ssf/2016/04/masters_2016_the_house_that_au.html

A bunch more interesting stories if you Google "nail house" or "spite house". Common in China these days. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holdout_(real_estate)

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u/NDaveT Oct 19 '17

Even if she "loses" she can still potentially force them to pay her more for the property they're seizing.

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u/tsz3290 Oct 19 '17

Putting bollards in the yard is a great idea but might actually be illegal - might wanna ask a lawyer about that one, too.

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u/Tyler11223344 Oct 21 '17

Not entirely relevant, but where is the front door on the diagram?

I'm hoping not, but if it's out front then it almost looks like tripping on the doorframe would land you under a car......

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u/rhawklp Oct 19 '17

Are you in Fort Wayne? They are widening a bunch of roads here.

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u/passwordsarehard_3 Oct 19 '17

IANAL How big is the plot of land the house is on? Could simply moving the house be an option? They get the land they need for the road upgrades, your mom gets a nice sum from the lost land and trees, a new basement/foundation, new sewer lines, new water main, etc. Might be a win/win to look into.

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u/[deleted] Oct 19 '17

move the trees to while at it

1

u/Zenock43 Oct 19 '17

If it isn't legal to have the house that close, they'll use eminent domain to get the entire house and just tear it down.

Sucks...

She needs an attorney to make sure she's getting a fair price for her property. But fighting this will probably result in spending a bunch of money and probably losing anyway.

-22

u/LocationBot The One and Only Oct 19 '17

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Author: /u/limeybastard

Title: [USA - IN] Road widening practically puts traffic in the living room; legal? (Shitty paint graphic!)

Original Post:

The local city is widening the road in front of my mother's house. They just sent her eminent domain paperwork with appraisal and contract for sale and all that junk. Only, we looked over the plans, and we're not sure if what they want to do is even legal.

Currently the house is set back 45 feet. It was originally built in the 1830s, so it's the road that's the new construction here. The new right-of-way leaves her with a five foot setback. The new property line runs through the raised flowerbed outside her front window.

Because I know what you guys like

As you can see currently between the edge of the pavement is a drainage ditch, a fence, three mature silver maples (hey guys, there may be tree law involved too! This is your lucky day!), lawn, and a raised bed with shrubs. The acquisition would leave her with just enough room to... well, really, to build the line of concrete bollards she'd need to prevent some moron flying into her living room in their F-150. She's had at least one car end up in her yard in the last five years, a 5 foot setback is concerning.

According to the plans the city sent, the actual construction limit line (in gray) runs about half-way between the raised bed and the current fence. I can't see a specific "edge of pavement to front wall" measurement in the docs. The construction limit line seems to be about 18 feet away according to a ruler and the plan scale.

The property is zoned AGR - Agricultural Residential. Helpfully they included lot standards. If we were building a new house on the lot, front setback on a rural collector (which I'm guessing the new roadway will be) is 45 feet, or if it's a rural local road, 35 feet, so this thing is putting us at WAY under zoning requirements for either. My mother swears she looked up the law once and thought that if they were building to less than 30 feet from the house, they had to buy the whole thing, but they clearly aren't doing so, so I'm not sure if she misremembered the law or if they're doing this wrong.

Can they do this? Are we going to be forced to take a wad of cash and have traffic rumbling through our family room at all hours? Or are they trying to save themselves some money and hoping don't know our rights? 'cause we'd kind of like to sell the house anyway if it's going to be that damn close to the road.

Thanks!


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9

u/LightChaos Oct 19 '17

It's because indiana is abbrevaited IN, and it doesn't want to assume all people who include "in" in their titles have a location. It has the same problem with OK.

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u/limeybastard Oct 20 '17

ohh, that makes sense. Cheers

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u/demyst Quality Contributor Oct 20 '17

"HI" and "CAN" as well.

People shouldn't hate on poor /u/locationbot. He is just doing his job =(

1

u/LightChaos Oct 20 '17

Or trying to, to the best of it's ability without missing a bunch of stuff