Separating Fact from Fiction on Land Transfer Legislation
10/15/2012
Please allow me to set the record straight on my land transfer legislation. My purpose for authoring House Bill 2224 was to allow municipalities the opportunity to sell properties that are not deed restricted or otherwise dedicated for public use. Due to a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in re: Erie Golf Course, the court expressed its need for clarification regarding the legislative intent of this decades-old law. House Bill 2224 was written to clarify the terms surrounding the dedication and deed restrictions found in the act.

Unfortunately, some individuals and groups are saying this legislation would allow for the “secret sale” of any park in the Commonwealth. This simply is not true. Most parks are appropriately protected and will not be impacted by this change. If a park has been properly deed restricted or dedicated for public use, it will continue to be protected. In such cases, a municipality will still need court approval prior to selling this land.

Other individuals have misapplied the framework of this bill, saying it applies to agricultural or conservation easements, Project 70 Land Restrictions, and condemned land. Again, this is not true. Specific statutes will continue to dictate how these types of lands are handled.

My bill would only impact land purchased by a municipality that is not deed restricted or dedicated for public use. The number of properties impacted would likely be very small. Additionally, selling public land would still be an entirely public process. Prior to selling the land, the municipality would be required to follow the applicable municipal code, including advertising and bidding.

I recognize the concerns about the possibility of a park that was never properly dedicated or deed restricted, but I also believe this will be a small minority of cases. In an effort to avoid this scenario, one of the changes we are considering is to allow a window of time where titles could be reviewed and, if necessary, updated to reflect the original purpose of the conveyance. We will continue looking for possible changes to work toward a resolution in which municipalities can more easily sell non-deed-restricted assets, while also protecting the significant investment of our citizens into various land programs.

If this legislation is not adopted into law, the only real winners will be the municipal lawyers, who stand to reap the benefits at the taxpayers’ expense.

If you have any further questions about this legislation, please feel free to contact my office at 717-786-4551 to discuss the issue further.

State Representative Bryan Cutler
100th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nicole Wamsley
nwamsley@pahousegop.com
717.783.8063
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