C-M seeks to seize property

Published Feb 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm (Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm)

Canon-McMillan School District will begin the eminent domain process to take property across from the school’s football stadium that could be used for parking in the future.

The empty lot – about 15,000 square feet on Youngstown Street – was formerly the site of a dilapidated furniture warehouse that was torn down in September. The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to begin condemnation proceedings.

Under Pennsylvania law, a school district can “exercise eminent domain authority against property located within its geographic boundaries” for public use as long as it compensates the property owner.

Stephen Brody, the property owner, said the news of Tuesday’s meeting came as somewhat of a surprise because he thought it was an ongoing discussion with the school board. He said he had hoped to either sell the land to the school district or build a new furniture warehouse at that site.

“My original intention was to rebuild a warehouse there because I need a warehouse and loading dock,” said Brody, who owns Brody’s Furniture on West Pike Street. However, Brody said he changed his mind when the school board expressed interest in purchasing the property in October. He said he contracted Preferred Appraisal Service in Pittsburgh, which appraised his property at $115,000. The school district’s appraisal came in around $52,000, Brody said, which he felt was too low. Brody said he lowered his selling offer to $99,000 and told the board it could take his offer up until Feb. 1, at which point he would sell his property on the market.

“I just think I’ve been fair and reasonable during this whole process,” Brody said.

Brody would have 30 days after receiving a notice of condemnation to file preliminary objections to the taking of his property.

Superintendent Michael Daniels said the property would be acquired for district use, and stadium parking is one option that the school board is considering.

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