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NORTHWESTERN LEHIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT v. AGRICULTURAL LANDS CONDEMNATION APPROVAL BOARD (05/30/89)

decided: May 30, 1989.

NORTHWESTERN LEHIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT, PETITIONER,
v.
AGRICULTURAL LANDS CONDEMNATION APPROVAL BOARD, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF LEHIGH COUNTY, BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF THE TOWNSHIP OF HEIDELBERG, AGRICULTURAL AREA ADVISORY COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF HEIDELBERG, RAYMOND SNYDER, AND ELMA SNYDER, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from PETITION FOR REVIEW para. 763

COUNSEL

John E. Freund, III, E. Drummond King, King, McCardle, Herman & Freund, Allentown, for petitioner.

Mark Malkames, William G. Malkames, Allentown, for respondents, Raymond Snyder and Elma Snyder.

Stephen R. Pelcher, Harrisburg, for respondent, Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Bd.

John J. Bell, Camp Hill, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania Farmers Ass'n.

Doyle and Smith (p.), JJ., and Kalish, Senior Judge.

Author: Kalish

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 327]

Northwestern Lehigh School District (School District) petitions for review of an order of the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB), denying approval of a condemnation by the School District. We affirm.

The School District maintains educational facilities at two sites. One, approximately forty-four acres, is the main campus and houses the high school and its facilities. The other, in another township, houses the elementary school. The School District desires to build a middle school adjacent to the high school.

The Agricultural Area Security Law (Law), Act of June 30, 1981, P.L. 128, 3 P.S. §§ 901-915, declared it to be the policy of the State of Pennsylvania to conserve and protect agricultural lands. The site involved in this proceeding has been designated as an "agricultural area," pursuant to this Law. Section 913(b) of the Law, 3 P.S. § 913(b), provides that, "no political subdivision . . . or other body having or exercising powers of eminent domain shall condemn any land within any agricultural area . . . unless prior approval has been obtained from Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board." (Emphasis added.)

ALCAB, created by the legislature in section 306 of The Administrative Code of 1929, Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 177, as amended, added by section 1 of the Act of December 7, 1979, P.L. 478, as amended, 71 P.S. § 106, consists of six members including the Secretaries of Agriculture, Environmental Resources, Transportation, or their designees, and two farmers.

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 328]

Section 913(d)(2)(ii) of the Law, 3 P.S. § 913(d)(2)(ii), also provides that ALCAB shall determine whether the proposed condemnation would not have an unreasonable adverse effect upon the preservation of agricultural resources within the area or upon the environmental plans or policies of the municipality or county, or whether there are no reasonable and ...


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