ARCADIA — A beloved farm market in Hamilton County is being forced to move as the Indiana Department of Transportation claims eminent domain over the land it sits on.
INDOT's latest plans show a cul-de-sac will be built on the land where Wilson Farm Market in northern Hamilton County currently stands.
Eminent domain allows the government to buy someone's private property for public use, as long as they pay a fair price for the land.
Scott Wilson says INDOT's latest project will force him to move the family farm, which has been a fixture on U.S. 31 for over 40 years.
INDOT says the project is necessary because of the number of crashes on that stretch of US 31.
The department says their recent study shows there have been 432 crashes on the 8 mile stretch of US31 from 2014 to 2020.
INDOT has been studying this corridor and developing this Limited Access Upgrade for the past five years. Our studies have found that there has been a high rate of crashes occurring along the U.S. 31 corridor. The most common causes of these crashes are motorists following too closely, speeding, failing to yield to right-of-way, or disregarding traffic signals or signs.
The goal of this project is to reduce crashes along U.S. 31 by reducing the number of intersections and creating a limited access corridor that will provide safe local access for motorists.
Despite the crash analysis, Wilson says it doesn't show the full picture of what will happen when the road closes and access to 256th street is closed from US 31.
INDOT says their goal is to limit the number of people turning on and off of US 31.
The land where Wilson's family business stands, will be turned into a turnaround spot.
Wilson says he also fears that closing off access from US 31 will make emergency response times slower.
"Where is the happy medium in the idea of traffic safety and public safety out here with the first responders", he said.
Wilson says he is scared that if there is an issue where multiple agencies need to respond on 256th Street where access is blocked, it will cause first responders to be delayed in getting there.
Construction on INDOT's plan is set to start in the winter of 2024. Wilson says he would like to rebuild his business, but he has not been able to find the right place.
INDOT says they've received feedback on how important the market is to the community.
But they say the issue is complicated and all other alternatives would still result in Wilson's being forced to move.
Regarding your specific concerns of the project impact to the Wilson Farm Market, we have received feedback over the past few years of public involvement regarding the significance of this market to the local community. The Wilson Farm Market situation is complicated. All of the Limited Access Upgrade alternatives, such as an interchange, overpass, and cul-de-sac, would result in the business being relocated.
INDOT is and will continue to follow all state and federal regulations with regards to land acquisition and business relocation entitlements. It is our priority to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure as much time as possible is allowed to work through the process and all eligible entitlements are received to ensure a smooth transition to a new location.