Eminent domain may be used in Cumberland Valley school project

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 22, 2015 1:58 PM

(Silver Spring Township) -- Three Cumberland County landowners may lose their properties so two new public schools can be built.

Cumberland Valley School District plans to file court documents later this month to start the eminent domain process to secure the land for two new schools.

But it says that's a formality for now; it's still working with the landowners to buy the properties outright.

The eminent domain process can be long and expensive.

Lawyer Peter Carfley represents landowners in eminent domain cases.

"It's a very sacred thing, the ground that you have purchased, that's yours, it could've been in the family for years, and to have the government, any kind of government entity come in and take that, it's sometimes very hard to swallow," he says.

Carfley says landowners rarely are successful in stopping an eminent domain action, but do have options to get a fair market value for their property.

"It really comes down to what the actual compensation is, usually the acquiring party is not going to offer what they feel is adequate. What they're going to do is they're going to have an appraiser come in who's going to more often than not, going to err on the side of being a little bit low."

Carfley says if the landowner chooses to challenge the asking price, an independent board makes a final determination.

WITF reached out to all three landowners - one couldn't be contacted, one declined comment, and another said he's letting his lawyer handle the negotiations.

Cumberland Valley expects to complete the $80 million project in time for the start of the 2018 school year.

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