Natural gas company files eminent domain suit against property owners

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A Dallas-based natural gas pipeline company has filed an eminent domain lawsuit against several property owners in Boone and Marion counties.

Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line LP argues in the lawsuit it needs to acquire new easement rights so it can reroute two pipelines before urgent construction work can begin on Interstate 465 bridges above 96th Street.

Houston-based Buckeye Terminals LLC, Indianapolis-based Baptist Homes of Indiana and Indianapolis-based BHI Senior Living Inc. are named as defendants in the lawsuit that was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana.

According to the lawsuit, the companies each turned down more than $3,000 for the easement interests on their properties that Panhandle wants to acquire. Now, Panhandle is suing to get them by eminent domain.

The easement rights Panhandle seeks to acquire by eminent domain include:

  • 3.181 acres and 9.516 acres owned by Buckeye Terminals in Marion County;
  • 0.220 acres owned by Baptist Homes of Indiana in Marion County;
  • 4.063 and 0.934 acres owned by BHI Senior Living in Boone County.

The lawsuit says Panhandle owns and operates two large-diameter interstate natural gas pipelines known as the 100 Line and the 400 Line, which both cross under I-465 and 96th Street.

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to replace the I-465 bridges over 96th Street in 2022. However, the lawsuit says the project cannot get underway until the pipelines are rerouted.

Additionally, the complaint says INDOT determined the bridges are in such poor shape that they are in danger of collapse.

“According to INDOT, the bridges have fracture critical members whose failure would probably cause a portion of or the entire bridge to collapse,” the lawsuit says. “According to INDOT, a portion of the retaining and slope wall on the east side of East 96th Street has already collapsed, requiring temporary emergency repairs to be made to the walls until the INDOT Project can begin.”

The location of the 100 Line interferes with INDOT’s ability to begin the project because it is directly under the bridges in an area where crews will need to excavate and drill in order to install new bridge supports.

INDOT will also need to realign 96th Street, which the lawsuit says will require the 400 Line to be rerouted.

“INDOT is requiring Panhandle to reroute the 100 Line and 400 Line before the INDOT Project commences in order to accommodate the INDOT Project and related excavation and drilling,” the lawsuit says.

Neither Panhandle nor any of the companies named as defendants responded to a request for comment from IBJ.

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5 thoughts on “Natural gas company files eminent domain suit against property owners

  1. Their offer “had to” be larger than $3000 wouldn’t it? Easement rights onto property that large makes some sense, but taking it by Eminent Domain for that little is crazy.

    1. They aren’t acquiring the title to the land. Seeking easement rights to bury pipeline within property boundaries. Would impair ability to build anything within the easement area so likely has a greater cost than offered but not full FMV of acreage.