Brown County couple fights eminent domain

Published:
Updated:

BROWN COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) - Let's say you bought a 2.5-acre property in Brown County and restored the home only to find out the state and the county are exploring the use of eminent domain to take part of it.

You wouldn't be happy.

Gary and Sheila Oliver have decided to fight it.

"This is my home on the water. Always thought it would be on the beach but it's on Salt Creek," said Gary Oliver as he walked to the deck off the back of his home.

He bought the property just off off Highway 46 east of Nashville 14 years ago because his wife Sheila loved it.

"This is my dining room table right here. You can see the red flag there. It's 125 feet from my dining room table, I measured it," he said as he turns and strides down the hill, beckoning us to follow.

"Everything here is a little over 2-and-a-half acres," Gary said as he reached his destination near the creek.

What's going to be here, I ask, looking at the flags staked into the ground.

"The bridge," he responds.

And not just any bridge.

The plan is to move half of Clay County's Eel River Bridge to the Olivers' backyard.

"This front porch, you will see the whole thing. Right now we enjoy the birds, the animals and peace and quiet," Sheila said, pulling back the curtains in her dining room.

"Right now as we stand here we don't know where that bridge will sit. Will it sit upon the bank so we will have to look at it forever or will it sit down here," Gary said.

Plans are to split the bridge into two sections and put one section in Brown County. The Olivers have been offered $7,800 for one-third of an acre, which they declined.

"Who is going to buy this? Who is going to buy this if we try to sell the property," Sheila said.

It's particularly heartbreaking because the Olivers bought an old dilapidated house and turned into their forever-after house. They have decided to fight against the Salt Creek Trail Bridge and threats of the use of eminent domain.

"One of the commissioners accused Gary, saying 'you knew about this when you bought the property that this was going in.' Well, we didn't know when we bought the property," Sheila said.

They know now and they are going to fight it.

INDOT told us that negotiations between the state, the county and the Olivers is ongoing.

Filed under: