(MARTIN CO.) – A group of cabin owners along the East Fork of the White River in Shoals said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources gave them letters demanding that they vacate and destroy their homes.
An estimated 20 residents received letters demanding they leave their property. They must also demolish their homes and will receive no compensation.
The letter delivered in February 2017 states that the homes were in violation of flood regulations. The Flood Control Act (Indiana code 14-28-1) requires approval from the DNR to have a structure such as his cabin in a floodway.
“Recent historic floods have threatened the lives of Indiana residents and caused substantial damage to property at numerous locations within the state,” the residents’ letters read. “Regulation of construction activities located in floodways is a matter of extreme importance.”
The second round of letters arrived in April 2019. The letter says if cabin owners don’t comply they could face an initial $1,000 fine. That would be followed by a daily $500 fine.
Local residents hired an attorney and the cabin owners have also partnered with Rep. Shane Lindauer and Sen. Eric Bassler, who spoke with the DNR – but the law is the law.
State Sen. Eric Bassler helped write Senate Bill 433 that would help. It doesn’t stop the homes from being demolished but it does help those who own the property.
The Senate has already passed Senate Bill 433. The bill says the Indiana Department of Natural Resources would have to secure grant funding before removing a residence. That money would be used to refund the cabin owners. The bill passed 48 to 1 in the Senate.
Representative Sean Eberhart does not intend to bring the bill to a vote in the House. This means it would not move forward.
“This is simply telling the DNR that they need to apply for any possible federal grants maybe through FEMA or maybe look at possible state programs or even non-profit organizations that would help reimburse these homeowners for the taking down of their own homes,” said Sen. Bassler.
Cabin owner James Brown says, “I’d like to remind him that he works for the people. What’s it hurt if he doesn’t agree, what’s it hurt to hear the bill? And let the House decide. It hurts nothing.”
A DNR representative said the DNR could not comment on the letters because the matter is still in litigation.