The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association sent the following letter to all Pennsylvania state representatives and aides on June 18, 2018.
Subject: Support HB 2468; Stop Irresponsible Eminent Domain
On behalf of the 75 member organizations of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and the 120,000 Pennsylvanians they count as members, I write to request your support of HB 2468 and ask that you oppose all amendments that would weaken the bill’s safeguard against poorly considered eminent domain.
Conservation easements are a non-regulatory, property-rights-based tool for conserving special places for the public’s benefit while keeping land in private ownership. The bill defends conservation easements from thoughtless application of eminent domain. It ensures that the would-be condemner will look for reasonable and prudent alternatives to the condemnation before proceeding.
In requiring orphan’s court review for reasonable and prudent alternatives, HB 2468 establishes a level of review for conservation easement condemnations analogous to that provided by the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (ALCAB) for lands in Agricultural Security Areas.
Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states that:
The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.
A conservation easement accomplishes such preservation, and the legislation ensures that the government does not act heedless of the people’s right to it. Since environmental rights don’t exist in a vacuum, the legislation only requires that before exercising eminent domain on a conservation easement, the condemner look for reasonable and prudent alternatives.
Thank you for your consideration.
Andrew M. Loza