Citation:

Valley Township v. Coatesville,
894 A.2d 885 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006)

Summary:
Nothing in the Eminent Domain Code requires a condemnor to file for subdivision approval either before or after a condemnation.
Case Details:

Seeking to add to its recreational facilities through the development of a “regional family recreational complex,” including a public golf course, the City of Coatesville filed declarations of taking to condemn a 47.5-acre parcel situated in a neighboring township.  The property owners whose land was being taken (Condemnees) filed preliminary objections arguing, among other things, that the taking was not for a public use, the City could not condemn property outside of its boundaries, and that the City improperly excepted lots in the middle of the proposed facility.  In addition, the Township filed a separate action requesting an injunction because the City did not file a subdivision and land development application.

In the Condemnees’ action, the trial court ordered the City to amend its declaration of taking to narrow the purpose of the taking to that of a golf course and related ancillary facilities.  The trial court also ordered the City to amend its declaration of takings so as to ensure that the configuration of the excepted lots would comply with the Township’s subdivision and land development requirements.  Finally, the trial court ordered the City to file for subdivision approval.  In all other regards, the trial court overruled the Condemnees’ preliminary objections.

On appeal of the Condemnees’ action, Condemnees argued, among other things, that the City violated the MPC and the Township’s subdivision and land development ordinance by failing to apply for subdivision approval.  The Commonwealth Court held (in a separate decision in 2003) that Condemnees waived the subdivision approval argument by failing to include it in preliminary objections.  The Court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that the City could condemn property outside of its boundaries.  In addition, the Court affirmed that the use, if properly confined to that of a golf course and ancillary uses, qualified as a public use within the meaning of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

In the Township’s action, the trial court overruled the City’s preliminary objections that the City was not required to file for subdivision approval prior to filing its declarations of takings.

On appeal in the Township’s action, the Commonwealth Court (in this decision) held that “nothing in the Eminent Domain Code requires a condemnor to file for subdivision approval either before or after a condemnation.”

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