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Evans City to challenge Jackson Twp. eminent domain effort

Part of the land surrounding the reservoir off Lindsay Road which is currently owned by Evans City. Jackson Township has indicated that they intend to take the 132-acre property by eminent domain to build a public park. Submitted Photo

Evans City Borough Council President Cheri Deener-Kohan said the borough will challenge Jackson Township’s effort to obtain several parcels of land through eminent domain.

“Jackson Township’s attempt to take our property is not only unjust, but it also fails to meet the critical legal benchmarks that are necessary,” Deener-Kohan said. “We’re confident that the court will recognize these deficiencies and rule in favor of Evans City.”

On Thursday, Jackson Township supervisors voted to start proceedings to acquire 132 acres, including a lake and dam, along Lindsay Road. Deener-Kohan said the move totally blindsided the borough.

“We knew about the zoning hearing, and we went for that, but nobody anticipated (the eminent domain attempt),” she said.

The land is owned by Evans City but is located within Jackson Township. The township has signaled that it intends to pay more than $1.2 million to Evans City for the land, the value indicated by an appraisal from August.

Evans City would still be entitled to any royalties from the land’s oil and gas rights.

Jackson Township’s board of supervisors issued a news release after Thursday’s vote.

“By taking this step, the Township Board of Supervisors believes that this property will become a true natural public amenity and one that Township residents, Evans City residents, and the community at large may enjoy for many years to come,” the news release stated.

In the release, Jackson Township’s supervisors also argued a dam at the site is in need of repairs.

“The Township believes that its application of eminent domain and development of the property as a public park will maintain and advance the value of the site,” the news release stated.

This is the second attempt Jackson Township has made to secure the reservoir property. Last fall the two municipalities were in conversation about possibly working out a deal that would give Jackson Township the land, which would be used for a park, in exchange for use of their police force. Those talks stalled.

Deener-Kohan said the land is a critical part of Evans City whose natural resources provide the borough with certain necessities, such as rocks for gravel and a natural dump site for organic waste.

“The land should stay in he hands of the people that actually need it,” Deener-Kohan said.

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