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Landowners Affected By Milwaukee Trail Seek Compensation
Updated July 7, 2014 6:42 AM
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(BEDFORD) - About two dozen landowners have joined a class action suit seeking compensation from the federal government over the Milwaukee Trailway.

Hiram Sanders of Loogootee is one of those individuals who does not like the idea of the trail crossing his land.

The Milwaukee Trailway is about 20 miles long and extends from Bedford to Crane.

Sanders, who owns 76 acres north of Indian Springs, has joined a class action suit seeking compensation from the federal government.

About a dozen people, most of them affected landowners, attended a meeting Wednesday night at the Holiday Inn Express in Bedford at the rails to trails.

The Times Mail reports that Lindsey Brinton, attorney with the Washington D.C. law firm Arent Fox, explained to the landowners how the legal process would unfold, should they file a claim. The suit, McCarty v. United States, is before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The suit will not stop the trail, but compensate landowners whose property is affected or devalued by the trail.

Rails to Trails

In March 2010, following the abandonment of the railway, the federal Surface Transportation Board issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use, which preserved the right of way for future railroad purposes, if needed, and also granted interim use of the land as a public-access trail.

Brinton explained that, at one time, Indiana law stipulated the property easements granted to railroads were limited, meaning, if they abandoned the trail, the property would revert back to the landowners.

However, in 1983, following years of rail lines being abandoned, a federal Trails Act was passed. Under the law, abandoned rail lines would be given to trail groups, and those old state laws regarding easements would no longer apply.

Brinton says the process of filing, appraising property and receiving compensation usually takes about two years.

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