INDOT just notified property owners along I-69 Section 6 that they will be receiving a Notice of Survey letter soon as INDOT begins survey work along the Section 6 corridor. So what can you expect if you receive one of these letters?
What is involved in the survey process?
Pursuant to IC 8-23-7-26, INDOT or its contractors and/or subcontractors may enter upon your property prior to acquiring the title (by agreement or through condemnation) or possession to it (through condemnation), in order to perform the following activities: inspecting, measuring, leveling, boring, trenching, sample-taking, archeological digging, investigating soil and foundation, transporting equipment, and any other work necessary to carry out the survey or investigation. Obviously, this statute includes a broad array of activities that INDOT may undertake. For the most part though the primary purpose of these activities is to begin surveying (to write legal descriptions and prepare engineering sketches), test soil types and densities (which can involve substantial boring), and to look for items of archeological significance (which, if found, may require additional investigation).
Who are the surveyors?
Usually the person entering onto your property to perform these activities is a contractor for the State and not a State employee. So, even though you are free to ask them questions about what they are doing, they will likely know very little about the project or your property beyond the specific task that they are there to complete.
Do I have to let them on my property?
It is also important to know that they are permitted to be on your property conducting these activities. It is ill-advised to attempt to run them off of your property or otherwise harass them in any way. Property owners on previous sections of I-69 tried vigorously to fight the validity of INDOT’s right to enter onto property to perform these activities under IC 8-23-7-26, and they were unsuccessful. The trial court and Court of Appeals confirmed INDOT’s rights under this statute.
Since INDOT is beginning these survey activities this Spring and Summer, it should still be on track to be prepared to begin land acquisition the moment the Record of Decision is handed down by Federal Highway in early 2018. These activities may also result in additional early acquisitions by INDOT, since it will have more complete information once the survey work is completed.
It is never too early to hire an eminent domain attorney to advise you on your rights and ensure that you are protected throughout the process. If you have any questions about the survey activities that INDOT is going to perform on your property, please contact a Cohen & Malad attorney at 317-636-6481.