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Trust, school district trying to strike land deal

Representatives of a family trust and a Pennsylvania school district are negotiating the transfer of a piece of commercial real estate. First, however, the two sides must agree to future land use and other issues.

The family trust wants to sign over a 68-acre parcel, but it will require that the local school district first meet a dozen conditions. A school district official vowed to live up to the conditions, should it go ahead and accept the gift.

Appraisers have valued the land at about $700,000.

First among the conditions is the agreement to use the land primarily for a school. The trust wants the district to agree to build a school in a two-year time span. That would require speeding up the plans to open a new school before the 2015-16 academic year, so representatives for the district hope to strike an agreement to amend the wording to "under construction" within that time frame.

Other stipulations for the gift include putting $35,000 into an escrow account; reimburse the family trust for any legal fees, paying a local real estate company a $70,000 finder's fee and allowing the family trust to access any sewage and water lines that the district might build at no cost.

As the two sides discuss a prospective agreement, architects will conduct environmental tests and study the wetland barrier to make sure no barriers exist to building.

The school district is being prudent in making sure the site can accommodate a school in the size the district will need as well as testing the site for building capability before any land transfer takes place. Exercising caution now can ensure that the transfer does not turn into a real estate dispute later.

Source: The Kittanning Paper, "'Free' Land Comes at a "Price" to ASD," Jonathan Weaver, May 11, 2012

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