HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. – Thousands of homeowners along the Nickel Plate Rail in Hamilton County could receive a lump sum of money once the proposed walking and biking trail is built.
The Nickel Plate Trail will connect Fishers and Noblesville, but those who own property near the site can receive up to $100,000 compensation, depending on how close they are to the rail line. Homeowners with property from 116th Street in Fishers to 8th Street in Noblesville could be eligible.
“From the beginning, I thought it was an amazing idea,” said Emmitt Hale, whose home is about 50 feet away from the rail. “I think it's exciting. Who does not want a trail out their back door? To go hop on, I can be uptown in three minutes, I can be at 96th street in 10."
In July, final plans were announced to convert 9.2 miles of rail south of downtown Noblesville into a trail. The rail north of downtown Noblesville will continue to serve as a train. The rail-to-trail conversion is expected to cost $9.3 million.
The plan faced lots of opposition as more than 6,000 people signed a petition to save the rail line.
Despite the fight the project may go on, and Hale said he’s excited about the outcome.
“If they're going to give me a little to kick back, great,” he said.
When it comes to collecting the money for property the government takes, homeowners may not know they’re entitled to funds, said attorney Lindsay Brinton.
"This is what they call inverse condemnation, so the taking occurs first and then if owners want to be paid for the taking, they have to affirmatively file a claim against the federal government for their just compensation,” said Brinton with Arent Fox Law Firm.
She said the firm has met with more than 50 homeowners and says, if you don't sue - you don't get the cash.
City and county officials are waiting for the Surface Transportation Board to approve the application to convert the tracks into the trail. They hope to begin development within the next few months.
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