Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County in the case of In Re: The Matter of the Condemnation of Real Property of Naaman E. King by the Octorara Area School District, No. 87-08783.
Alan J. Jarvis, for appellant.
James H. Thomas, Blakinger, Byler, Thomas & Chillas, P.C., for appellee.
Judges Barry and Palladino, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 473]
Octorara Area School District (Appellant) appeals from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County sustaining the preliminary objections of Naaman E. King to Appellant's declaration of taking.
Eight municipalities are included within the area served by Appellant, six in Chester County and two in Lancaster County. All of Appellant's schools are located on a 53 acre campus and include an elementary school, an intermediate school and a high school. Appellant's administrative offices are also located at this site. The campus is surrounded by four operating farms.
At public meetings in November and December of 1986, Appellant's Board of Directors and the public were
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 474]
informed of a severe shortage of athletic facilities and the need to acquire additional land for that purpose. N.T. at 34-36, 54. Subsequently, it was discovered that a 189 unit housing development was being planned in the Borough of Parkesburg, one of the communities served by Appellant. Dr. Richard P. McAdams, Appellant's superintendent, projected that this development would result in the need for a new elementary school and in February 1987, he informed the Board that 30 acres would probably be needed for an elementary school and the already known to be needed athletic fields. N.T. at 39-40.
In February or March 1987, the Board authorized a bond issue to cover renovations and additions to the current schools and set aside some monies from the issue for possible land acquisition. N.T. at 40-41. McAdams was instructed to ask the owners of the four farms if they would be interested in selling land to Appellant. McAdams testified that none of the four were interested in selling any land. N.T. at 44. In April 1987, the Board directed its solicitor to report to it on condemnation procedures and instructed McAdams to have the four farms bordering the campus appraised. After obtaining this information, the Board, while not making a final decision on what land to condemn nor how much to condemn, ordered a second appraisal of Naaman King's farm based on acquisition of 50 acres and 100 acres. N.T. at 67. The appraisals were completed in September 1987.
The Board then met in executive session to determine how much land to acquire. At that meeting, McAdams provided them with projected school populations for all grades through the year 1998. These projections were based in large part on McAdams' assumption that the major difference over the past was the housing development in Parkesburg. ...