ShareThis Page
News

Airport wants church land

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 10:03 a.m.

The Westmoreland County Airport Authority intends to acquire through eminent domain almost 25 acres of Unity Township farmland on which a church has plans to build.

Authority Solicitor Gene McDonald said a resolution of intent, unanimously passed by the board Tuesday, would allow him to request a hearing with the state Department of Agriculture to present the authority's case for the land.

The land, part of about 148 acres on Earhart Road owned by Louann and David Brandt of Unity Township, is important to the authority's plans to construct an air cargo support site and make other improvements at the adjoining Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. It is classified as protected farmland by the agriculture department, McDonald said.

McDonald said the authority is 'several steps away' from filing a declaration of taking with the Westmoreland County Prothonotary's Office and is still open to negotiating with the Brandts.

The solicitor does not plan to file the authority's notice of intent with the state Department of Agriculture until Monday and does not expect a hearing until October.

Airport Manager Gabe Monzo said the purpose of yesterday's resolution was to underscore the importance of the land to the authority. The air cargo area and other improvements are in the airport's 9-year-old master plan and its 2001 update.

'The authority board feels the land is important to the growth and expansion of the airport facilities,' Monzo said.

The resolution of intent was not intended as the first step in a bottom-line condemnation proceeding, Monzo said.

'This does not mean that condemnation is the final outcome,' he said.

Louann Brandt confirmed yesterday that there was an agreement of sale for the property with Living Hope Church, which now worships at a temporary site at Adelphoi Village. She said Living Hope planned to build a church on the property, then declined to comment further.

Monzo said the authority would have been interested in the property whether there had been plans to build a church or anything else there.

If the authority can come to an agreement with the Brandts, a purchase could be arranged, he said.

Neither Charles Mason, the Brandts' attorney, nor New Hope Church leader Keith Tucci could be reached for comment.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me