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In Pennsylvania, a Township can acquire land for public purposes whether or not the municipality has an Official Map. The Official Map allows for Millcreek to designate public lands and facilities in a comprehensive fashion so that they are laid out in an efficient and logical manner. Typically, many properties designated on the Official Map are undeveloped or underdeveloped giving the Township a chance to acquire that property which will be less expensive and ideally in a logical place to meet the needs of the public.
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An Official Map is a land-use planning tool authorized by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. It is a way for Millcreek to comprehensively examine the Township and identify properties that could be beneficial for future public use. The map is a means for the Township’s intentions to be clearly stated so that property owners are fully aware if there is a potential future interest in their parcel.
Municipalities can place on their Official Map any piece of land or facility that will provide a benefit to the public. The MPC specifically spells out the following as being for a public purpose or benefit: public streets, watercourses, parks, playgrounds, open space, pedestrian ways and easements, floodways, and floodplains.
Nothing. The land or facility designated on the Official Map is simply a way of providing the Township some time to enter into negotiations for the possible acquisition of a property prior to development and prior to such an opportunity to provide for a new road or public facility is lost. Under the Official Map, Millcreek has one year to acquire the necessary facility after receiving notice from the developer/owner of their intentions to develop. If the Township is not in any kind of position to acquire the property, it can waive its right to it at any time during that one-year period.
No. By designating the property on the Official Map, Millcreek is saying that in the future, that property would be a good location for some type of public use. The Official Map is a planning tool that allows the Supervisors to plan for public facilities in the future. Designation of lands or facilities on the Official Map does not mean the Township will definitely be purchasing the property. In the form of an Official Map, Millcreek is simply given a chance to put together a plan for acquiring the property, which it could very well decide not to do. The Township already has the ability to acquire property without an Official Map.
No. The intent of the Official Map is not to take anyone’s home or create onerous regulations on their property. The Official Map is intended to provide a pause in the pace of development so that the Township may attempt to acquire land when property owners propose a new development. For this reason, the Official Map provides two extra provisions to homeowners: any expansion of a home no greater than 25% in area of the existing structure is exempted from the Official Map, and the Township only has 90 days to potentially acquire a portion of a property where there is an existing single-family home.
A “Taking” is a commonly used term for Eminent Domain. Government cannot take anybody’s land; however, all levels of government have the ability to acquire land from private individuals provided that through the proper processes established by law; the Township pays the property owner fair market value of the property; and the property is for a public use or benefit such as those facilities shown on the proposed Official Map. The process takes time, and the property owner has the ability to dispute any stated value of their property and have a separate assessment done on the property’s value. Then, a separate body (not the Township) will determine the appropriate market value.
The placement of property on the Official Map DOES NOT mean that Millcreek will be purchasing any property upon the adoption of the Official Map. The intent of the Official Map is to provide the Township with a limited amount of time to acquire a property, or portion thereof, for the purpose stated on the Official Map prior to the development or redevelopment of the property.
The Official Map is triggered only when a property owner provides notice that they will develop their property, which would be considered construction of a permanently affixed structure on the property. A modification to an existing home is exempt if the expansion is no greater than 25% of the area of the existing home.
The Township cannot prevent a reasonable return to the owner or make the property useless. Property owners have the ability to apply for a special encroachment permit, which would give them the ability to encroach into an area on their property designated on the Official Map including reduced setbacks from such area.