Midstate school district asked to reconsider eminent domain plans

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Mar 13, 2018 4:59 AM

Inside a courtroom at the Cumberland County courthouse. (Photo by WITF's Tim Lambert).

(Harrisburg) -- The Cumberland County commissioners are asking a school district to reconsider its future development plans.

The Cumberland Valley School Board voted earlier this year to use eminent domain to secure preserved farmland for the site of new schools.

The land is a 116-acre lot in Silver Spring Township known as the McCormick Farm and has been preserved since the 1980s.

But County Commissioner Jim Hertzler says while he understands the district's need to plan for future growth, he doesn't think this is the right move.

"It would seem that there may be other options that are available where you're not pitting one public purpose or interest against another," Herzler said. 

Hertzler says the commissioners don't have the legal authority to tell the district to halt its plans, but they have sent a letter to district officials asking them to reconsider. 

He says the plan goes against the county's recently-revised comprehensive plan, which prioritizes preserved farmland.

"It's an important component of our county's overall need to balance our county's population and economic growth with the preservation of some of the most fertile farmland and soils in the world, quite frankly," Hertzler said.

The nonprofit Natural Lands holds a conservation easement on a 108-acre portion of the McCormick Farm.

In a statement, it says it has retained legal counsel in the case and will defend the integrity of the easement.

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