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School and golf course in eminent domain dispute over 50 acres

In Pennsylvania, a school and a pair of owners of a nearby golf course are locked in a dispute over eminent domain laws, and they will soon go to court to have the matter settled. The school has claimed that they need the property, and the owners of the golf course have disputed that claim. This puts it all in the judge's hands, with those on the school's side saying they are confident that a decision can be found that is fair and just.

The problem that the school has is that East Pikeland Elementary School and the Kindergarten Center are both overcrowded, and they need to put up a new building to house all of the students. The capacity of the buildings that they are using now has been set at 1,650 students. However, the enrollment numbers are nearly 200 students higher than that, at 1,839.

The school, therefore, plans to build an elementary school and an early learning center. Since the site is just over 50 acres, though, the golf course owners are arguing that so much land is not really needed for the project. It is up to the judge to decide if the school should have all of the land for the project or simply a portion of it.

Part of the claim that the golf course owners have made relates to local codes, which allegedly state that the school needs just 10 acres and then one more for each 100 students. However, the school says that is a minimum guideline, not the total amount that they can use.

This case is important because it could set a precedent for future eminent domain disputes in the state, helping to define what the law means when referencing how much land should be used.

Source: The Phoenix Reporter & Item, "Chesco judge hears Phoenixville eminent domain arguments" Frank Otto, May. 19, 2014

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