Not a proper purpose for which a school district may condemn property
A Pennsburg couple recently won a court challenge to prevent the Upper Perkiomen School District from condemning a portion of its property to widen existing sidewalks. Last week, a three-judge panel from the Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of Dennis and Shirley Giansante.
The memorandum opinion – written by Judge Patricia McCullough and filed April 10 – reversed a previous Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas decision, ruling that the construction of a sidewalk at 1028 Montgomery Ave. – situated approximately 1,000 feet from the location of the new middle school – is not a proper purpose for which a school district may condemn property.
A Red Hill attorney representing the couple argued successfully in December that the district exceeded its authority by filing a declaration to acquire a permanent sidewalk for use by the school and general public. He contended that the school officials were required to ask Pennsburg Borough Council to exercise its authority for a public purpose. According to the Chris Mullaney, state law allows school districts to condemn property for only schools, playgrounds and parking lots.
"It's our belief that the district has not talked to the borough about this parcel," the lawyer said two years ago.
Additionally, Mullaney – citing Title 26, Section 306(g) – said he will file paperwork with the court to force the school district to release its claim to the property and reimburse his clients' legal fees. According to the lawyer, the district has the right to reconsideration by Pennsylvania Superior Court or it could ...