Monday, August 7, 2017

IndyGo to Use Eminent Domain Against College Avenue Property Owners

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports on the development:
A court battle is escalating between IndyGo and property owners along the proposed Red Line route fighting to protect their land from becoming part of the rapid-transit bus system.
Proposed Red-Line Station Near Moe & Johnny's.
The first phase of the Red Line would run 13 miles, stretching from East 66th Street in Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis on the south side, and would include infrastructure improvements spilling onto the properties.
IndyGo so far has settled with 11 owners along the route by paying them amounts ranging from $500 to $90,800—moves that will allow it to gain either temporary or permanent use of slivers of no more than one-tenth of an acre of each owner’s land.
But nine property owners are holding out, prompting IndyGo last month to sue each individually. In the suits, IndyGo seeks to exercise its power of eminent domain, with the purchase price for parcels to be determined via independent appraisals. 
IndyGo’s legal maneuvering isn’t sitting well with business owners such as Chuck Mack, longtime operator of Meridian-Kessler staple Moe & Johnny’s at 5380 N. College Ave.
IndyGo sued Mack after he refused an $815 offer for a portion of his parking lot needed to install a sidewalk wheelchair ramp and extend a curb.
“The net effect is way beyond the ludicrous $800 they offered for the inconvenience of losing our easement,” Mack scoffed.
Mack, who has owned Moe & Johnny’s for 23 years, says he’ll lose 20 percent of his parking, in addition to access to his lot from College Avenue, forcing patrons to use 54th Street.
Colleen Fanning, the city-county councilor who represents the area along College, didn’t return phone calls from IBJ seeking comment on the business owners’ concerns.
But on her website, she praises the Red Line project while acknowledging the differences in opinion she has with her longtime friend Mack at Moe & Johnny’s.
“I am a staunch supporter of the Red Line and believe this valuable infrastructure will positively impact the future of our neighborhood and city,” she wrote.
Any one who regularly travels College Avenue from downtown to Broad Ripple knows what a congested mess the route is.   Eliminating travel lanes and parking from the street is just going to make the situation worse.  Keystone Avenue, a much wider street, is a far better location for the line. Unfortunately, in an eminent domain case you can't challenge whether the project is a good idea or if a better option exists. You can only challenge whether the taking is for a public purpose, which issue IndyGo will win easy.  Once that hurdle is clear, the only issue is the amount of compensation.  Moe & Johnny's is probably smart to hold out.  I've done a number of eminent domain cases and I don't think I have ever seen a case where a person settled post-litigation (or received a judgment from a jury) which figure was less than that offered prior to litigation.  

Sadly, the Indianapolis City-County Councilor Colleen Fanning is in the tank for those who will profit off the Red Line at the expense of those who live in the Broad Ripple area.  It is unfortunate that Broad Ripple in recent years hasn't had better representation on the Council.  This is the third Republican councilor in a row who was all about helping developers make a buck instead of doing what is best for local residents and business owners.  Broad Ripple deserves better.


Anonymous said...

Those of us who opposed this stupid bus said all along that College wasn't wide enough. IndyGo said we were liars. Now, who's the liar? Also, the eminent domain could have been avoided if IndyGo used curbside pickup instead of the bus stations. It wouldn't budge. That would also save millions and avoid tearing up College Avenue for a full year. The main reason IndyGo demands the bus stations is to make it more difficult to abandon Red Line on College when the 51% increase in ridership doesn't happen. Without the stations, it would be easier to divert buses to routes where the need is greater.

Soon-to-be-ex-Councilor is a lost cause. As you said, she refuses to advocate for her constituents who aren't developers.

Leon Dixon said...

Both Colleen and Kep Tew were candidates in favor of the Red Line and so, effectively, the neighborhood did not choose their representation well on this issue. Sam Goldstein, the Libertarian, would have been a much better choice, on this issue. Both the R and the D were, thus, in the bag. The bag had a very large opening however, when assorted fools in the Legislature ignored the Guarantee Clause in our Constitution. Those who may have slept since 8th grade could be forgiven for neglecting the guarantee TO THE PEOPLE of a Republican Form of Government. In my view, referendums, especially the one way evilly written Indiana versions, DO NOT meet the test of a Republican form.
Were I Mayor Hogsett I'd be looking for a way out of this continuing fiasco and stench. The people were lied to and they know it and if he allows the first shovel full of dirt he will OWN the project. I can see HOGSETT'S FOLLY signs all along that route. It is bad enough that he thinks he needs $20,000,000 to design a jail? One would hope that lIttle Joe would insist on a Real Estate Developer's Wing to that Jail....and padded rooms for the City Clowncil wing of it.

Anonymous said...

The Cato Institute did a Red Line study that was published by Indiana Policy Review. The link is:

Anonymous said...

Paul and others, thanks for the information. Anonymous, your link is to an Error message. link explains how and why IndyGo’s $96-million Red Line rapid-transit line will neither improve mobility nor provide more sustainable transportation. According to Cato, "The inherent problem with the Red Line plan is that it was designed more to be eligible for federal grants than to truly increase mobility and sustainable transportation. The federal grant application didn’t even ask how many people IndyGo expected would ride the Red Line; instead, it was more interested in whether Indianapolis would subsidize the construction of high-density housing near Red Line stations. ... If Indianapolis packs people into a travel corridor that has lost street space to dedicated bus lanes, the result will be more congestion than ever." Once again, the winners are the developers and the losers are the taxpayers.