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Gov. Wolf Signs House Bill To Limit Eminent Domain Use On Land Protected By Conservation Easements

Gov. Tom Wolf Sunday signed House Bill 2468 limiting the use of eminent domain by government agencies on land with conservation easements for parks and open space purposes.

Two school districts in the state-- Cumberland Valley in Cumberland County and Lower Merion in Montgomery County-- have decided to use eminent domain to condemn privately-owned land permanently preserved by conservation easements held by local land trusts, over the objections of many residents of the communities. Other suitable non-preserved land in each vicinity is available, according to the bill sponsors.

The bill would require any government agency to obtain Orphans’ Court approval before using eminent domain to take permanently preserved land. The procedure is similar to that found in the Agricultural Area Security Law which requires additional scrutiny before condemnation of agricultural lands. The Orphans’ Court is given authority in the Donated and Dedicated Property Act over certain transactions related to publicly owned lands held for public uses.

The bill exempts public utilities that condemn land (like pipelines) and exempt “emergency” condemnations from the provisions of the bill.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Warren Kampf (R-Chester), Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) and Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery).

A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.  The bill is now Act 45 of 2018.

NewsClips:

Thompson: Cumberland Valley Schools Withdraw Bid To Condemn Conserved Farm

New Law Could Derail Midstate School District’s Eminent Domain Plans

Thompson: Bill Would Require Court Approval To Take Conserved Land

How The Fight To Save Stoneleigh Brought Zombie Pols Back To Life, Too

Stoneleigh Garden May Be Saved From Lower Merion School District By New Law

[Posted: June 25, 2018]


7/2/2018

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