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Pennsylvania pipeline implicates property owner rights

The planned construction of a natural gas pipeline through central Pennsylvania makes it essential for affected property owners to understand their rights. The pipeline will pass through 10 Pennsylvania counties. Property owners will be notified that their lands may be taken by the government under the doctrine of eminent domain, which allows for the taking of private lands for public use provided the owner is paid just compensation.

The natural gas companies involved in the pipeline project will be required to pay affected landowners just compensation based on the appraised value of their properties. According to Pennsylvania eminent domain law, the entity taking the property is required to reimburse property owners for up to $4,000 in appraisal costs and other costs of representation.

Under Pennsylvania law, for eminent domain purposes a property's value must be based on its highest and best use if it were to be developed, and not just the property's current value. The amount of property subject to taking for the pipeline is significant. Some of the proposed takings may require permanent easements on the affected properties.

Pennsylvania property owners' rights to be justly compensated when their land is taken for public use is an important one. Having property taken through the government's eminent domain powers can be confusing and upsetting. Getting knowledgeable advice about one's rights in the process can provide a real advantage to property owners. Understanding what can and cannot be done can help property owners protect their rights and get the compensation they deserve when their property is taken.

Source: Central Penn Business Journal, "Pipeline coming through? Know your rights," March 10, 2017

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