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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: June 14, 2013 11:39 AM
From: Senator Donald C. White
To: All Senate members
Subject: Changes to Eminent Domain

I plan to introduce legislation to clarify language in Section 710 of Title 26 (Eminent Domain), which deals with the reimbursement of appraisal, attorney and engineering fees.

The bill would change two areas of concern to municipal authorities whose costs of reimbursing these fees has significantly increased, especially in cases where infrastructure improvements and/or expansions to storm water, drinking water and sewage projects are necessary or mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). As a result, the increased fees have led to higher projects costs, which ultimately lead to increased rates for customers.

As the current law is written and interpreted, costs to property owners challenging eminent domain is reimbursed per owner of the property, as opposed to per property. For example, the current amount of money that can be reimbursed toward reasonable expenses actually incurred for appraisal, attorney and engineering fees is $4,000. However, if more than one owner is listed on the title to the property (i.e. a married couple), reimbursement doubles to $8,000. My bill would limit reimbursement to $4,000 per property, which I believe clarifies the original intent of the law.

Additionally, this legislation would limit reimbursement for easements related to underground piping for water or sewer infrastructure to $1000. Currently, some authorities are finding it financially impossible to implement necessary sewer and water projects due to the increased fees. As a result, I believe it is important the nature of these takings/easements be distinguished from other proceedings.

If you have any questions regarding this proposal, please contact Anne Achenbach, of my staff, at aachenbach@pasen.gov or at 717-787-4404.

Introduced as SB1096