Power of Eminent Domain Used to Halt Pennsylvania Subdivision
An unfolding case involving a developer in York County, PA, fits the profile of a disturbing trend in land use law in which local governments increasingly are using their power of eminent domain in order to curb growth.
After Pennsylvania builder and developer Peter Alechix acquired approximately 80 acres of prime land in West Windsor Township in 2002, he received approvals for Lauxmont Farms, a 51-lot subdivision of high-end, single-family homes. He quickly found clients interested in several parcels and construction began.
This May, however, the Board of Commissioners of York County adopted an ordinance to condemn the property in order to create an 825-acre park that would preserve farmland, archaeologically significant areas, and Indian-heritage and historic farmland structures. The developer claims that none of these are applicable to his property, and the county did not initiate condemnation proceedings against any of the other land needed for the park.
It is unclear whether the project is part of the larger local comprehensive plan or whether the county has the financial ability to pay for the land it wants to take for the park.