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'They’re stealing my property’: Easton Area district wants to take property through eminent domain for new school

Palmer Elementary School could be demolished by February 2020.During an Easton Area school board meeting Tuesday, engineer Josh Grice outlined plans for the school, which officials will take down and replace with a new school on the same site.But even once the old building is demolished, it’s unclear when the district can move forward with construction of a new school.Neighbors Eric and Jennifer Adams have not granted the district an easement for their property, keeping the project from moving forward.On Tuesday, district officials took a step toward obtaining that easement through eminent domain by voting to have the property appraised. They also authorized the district’s solicitor to act on their behalf in a dispute with the Adams.New playground at Easton Area Middle School will accommodate Palmer Elementary kids taking classes there while their school is being rebuiltJodi Hess was the only board member to vote against the motion.“I’m not sure about moving forward with trying to take someone’s property,” she said after the meeting.Eric Adams, who lives on South Greenwood Avenue, previously told The Morning Call the district’s proposed drainage system is unnecessary for both the district and the township.In April, Adams and his wife filed an appeal against the township’s land use approval of the project. He said the pipe, which would empty onto his nearly 4-acre property, would cause flooding.He opposes the district using eminent domain to take his property.“They’re stealing my property without a valid public need,” he said.District Solicitor John Freund said the appraisal, which happened more than a year ago, wasn’t a full appraisal and was for an easement along a different route. The more recently proposed easement runs along a preexisting one.Freund said that the board will make a new offer based on the appraisal. If Adams doesn’t accept the offer, the district will move forward with eminent domain proceedings.“It wasn’t the school district’s idea to go through Mr. Adams’ property, but it’s the requirement of the township and its ordinances …. and the school district doesn’t really have a basis to challenge that determination,” Freund said.The district already had the easement appraised at $7,800 more than a year ago. They offered Adams $10,000, then bumped it up to $95,000, plus another $20,000 for restoration.“We made a herculean effort to try to get this resolved with Mr. Adams,” Freund said. “We’re already beyond the limit of what I think could be reasonably justified in terms of the payment to him.”Morning Call reporter Michelle Merlin can be reached at 610-820-6533 or at
Source: Morningcall

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