The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently found that a Borough cannot condemn property owned by a school district. In that case, the Borough of Hanover condemned property owned by the Hanover Public School District. The school district challenged the taking and argued that the Borough could not condemn property owned by another public entity – as opposed to private property. Rather, the school district argued, the Borough could only private property. The trial court and the Commonwealth Court agreed and found that, because the Pennsylvania Borough Code does not expressly provide for condemnation of public property, there was no authority for the Borough to condemn the school district’s land.
This case points out the need to analyze whether a condemnation is authorized by statute. To do so, it is necessary to review the applicable code – for example the applicable Township Code, County Code or Borough Code – to determine whether there is authorization for the contemplated condemnation.