Land Sale Raises Thorny Issue

July 23, 2011 – In The News
Times Leader

The case of Bear Creek Township v. Harris family has sparked conversation on the fairness of eminent domain.

After the Harris family placed acres of their Bear Creek Township land for sale in 2005, they received a potential offer of $5.5 million. It was then that Bear Creek Township tried to acquire 50 acres of the land through eminent domain, causing the potential buyers to back out of the $5.5 million deal. The Harris family objected the action and is currently appealing the matter in Commonwealth Court.

Eminent domain is a centuries-old hot button topic, said David Snyder.

Snyder said the family's case caught his eye because of a 2006 amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that encompasses the Property Rights Protection Act, which states that property cannot be condemned and given to a "private enterprise."

Snyder said "private enterprise" has not yet been legally defined, and that the Bear Creek Township v. Harris family case may be what sets the bar.

"I will be watching to see what (the courts) do, " Snyder said.