Update on property acquisition process from DPW

As the Rocky Ripple floodwall project progresses, residents have requested more information related to the property acquisition process for impacted parcels along the river. Shannon Killion, Department of Public Words (DPW) Stormwater Administrator, has provided some additional details in a communication below for reference: 

As the Rocky Ripple Town Board voted in favor of having DPW move forward to 60% design during the May 2022 Board Meeting, next steps will be right-of-way engineering, which is a part of the design process where the real estate interests required for the project are determined and then appraisals of the value of such interests are completed on a parcel-by-parcel basis, a process that could take as long as 180 days. The City will begin making offers on a parcel-by-parcel basis as the engineering work and appraisals are completed, so in a perfect world the first offers would begin to be made sometime in the fourth quarter of 2022.  

Offers to acquire real estate interests, whether they be for temporary construction easements, permanent floodworks easements, or partial or total takings of parcels, will be based on the appraised value determined by a licensed appraiser, will be made in writing and will be delivered to property owners either in person or by certified mail, all in accordance with Indiana Code 32-24-1 et seq., which governs the eminent domain process.  If the appraised value of any permanent real estate interest is greater than $25,000, then a second appraisal must be obtained and the offer to acquire the interest will be the average of the two appraisals. Once a property owner receives the written offer, the owner has 30 days to either accept or reject the offer (no response is considered a rejection), after which the City may file an eminent domain action in Marion County Circuit or Superior Court to take the property. If a property owner and the City are in active and good faith negotiation following the delivery of the offer, the City will not commence legal proceedings immediately following the 30-day timeframe. Similarly, if a particular acquisition is a total taking requiring the owner to relocate and entitling the owner to relocation benefits, the timeline to complete the acquisition can be subject to negotiation. 

The City will always work with property owners to accommodate them as much as possible, the use of its eminent domain authority being a last resort, and so the 30-day period to respond to a written offer is not a rigid timeframe.  However, the City must be mindful of the project timeline and budgetary limitations and so, to avoid delays, it will be helpful for all involved if property owners are as prepared as they can be by having whatever information that they may deem helpful in determining appropriate compensation. Property owners should understand that this is a public project utilizing public funds and so any settlement payout above appraised market values must be justified and documented; therefore, unreasonable demands will not be entertained and the City will proceed with eminent domain to avoid protracted negotiations.

The Rocky Ripple Town Board hopes this information is helpful. If you have any questions as you review, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Board with questions.

Rocky Ripple Floodwall Survey: Call for Committee Volunteers and Notice of Informational Meeting to Discuss Project on Thursday, 06-Oct-2022 As previously communicated, the Rocky Ripple Town Board is working to organize a stakeholder vote on the City of Indianapolis’ proposed floodwall project. As part of this initiative, the Board wants to ensure stakeholders have relevant facts they need to vote in favor or against the project and that all residents are well informed about the project. This vote will provide valuable input as the Rocky Ripple Town Board works to make a final decision on the project. The Town Board is looking for a small group of community members to assist in development of a fact sheet and pro and con list to outline key details related to the City of Indianapolis’ proposed floodwall project. This committee will also assist in dissemination of the fact sheet and will serve as “boots on the ground” to funnel questions to the town board and remind eligible residents to cast a vote related to the project. The committee will play a critical role in ensuring that the virtues and drawbacks of the project are well understood. A charter and call for committee volunteers was previously made.  However, based upon further discussion between Town Board members and input from residents the charter for the committee has been simplified and is attached here.  The charter also includes a proposed definition for the stakeholders that will be able to vote.  Should the committee have change suggestions to the definition, this will be entertained by the Town Board. A meeting for individuals interested in working on the committee is scheduled for Thursday, October 6, 2022, at 7:00 pm at the town hall. Town Board members will present the thought process behind the committee charter, expectations for the committee project and associated timelines, and answer any questions potential committee members may have.  We thank those of you that previously volunteered to be on the committee and hope to see you there.  We also welcome others that wish to participate. Sincerely, Your Rocky Ripple Town Board Megan Hulland           Mandy Redmond          Randy Sanders