The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed Monday on the filing of a declaration of taking on a 9-acre parcel off Blue Course Drive.
The property, owned by Stephen and Paula White, is an undeveloped parcel bounded by Blue Course and Owens Drive adjacent to the Original Waffle Shop. The property is zoned R-1 and is shown on the official township map as a Natural Area Conservation.
According to Township Manager Mark Kunkle, the area has significance for both “passive recreation and environmental benefits,” saying the area provides a natural area and passive trail system linking the regional shared-use path system to active recreation areas and places of interest.
The area also acts as a natural absorption area for upstream drainage and provides “significant stormwater infiltration,” he said. This was based on a report prepared in 2004 evaluating the Pine Hall Drainage Area.
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Under the eminent domain code, township solicitor Joseph Green said, the township would have the authority to pursue the purchase of the property for public use.
“It appears this would be an attractive property to have for that standpoint,” he said, “for recreational use and environmental benefit.”
It appears this would be an attractive property to have for that standpoint — for recreational use and environmental benefit.
Township solicitor Joseph Green
Any property owner is entitled to just compensation, he said. Once the resolution is approved, the declaration will be filed in court. The property owners will be notified, and a compensation amount could be agreed upon.
Property owners have 30 days to file objections once notified, he said, if they contend that the property is not being taken for a legitimate public use.
Communication between the township and the Whites began in February with the township indicating interest in acquiring the land, Kunkle said. No response was received by the Whites.
A formal offer was made in September after an appraisal of the property was done, he said, again with no formal response by the owners. He refused to disclose the amount of the offer.
In other business, supervisors unanimously approved the 2016 budget.
According to the budget, revenues total about $15.1 million with expenditures of about $16.5 million. The general fund balance is projected to have a 2016 ending total of about $4.2 million.
The township millage rate will hold at 2.4 mills, Kunkle said.
The overall $13.8 million budget is an increase of 6.7 percent compared to 2015, he said. Of this total budget, the general fund makes up about $11.4 million and will show an increase of 2.5 percent compared to 2015.
The budget provides for a 1 percent wage increase for nonuniformed employees and a 2.35 percent increase for police officers. It also includes the addition of one police officer and expanded use of part-time employees in the Public Works Department.
Other major drivers for the increase include expanded capital street projects, he said, including the West College Avenue sidewalk project, street resurfacing of West Cherry Lane and other roads and engineering studies of the intersection of Valley Vista Drive and Bachman Lane.