Plan to build new schools hinges upon use of eminent domain

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SILVER SPRING TWP., Pa. - Efforts to build two new schools in Cumberland County are proceeding as planned, but the project requires Cumberland Valley school leaders to seize properties using eminent domain.

The Cumberland Valley School District says it is hoping to relieve some of the overcrowding issues they have at their current schools by building two new schools.

The district is planning to build a new middle school and elementary school near the intersection of Bali Hai and Lambs Gap roads in Hampden Township.

To do that, the district has begun eminent domain proceedings against three property owners who still own land in the project area.

“I'm very concerned that it's not the first choice, but rather elevated to a level that it's one of the last considerations and not taken lightly,” Philip Coler, a Carlisle resident, said.

The district says only one of the three properties is occupied. Linda Groff, the woman who lives in that house, did not speak in the meeting and declined an on-camera interview with Fox 43, but says the house has been in her family for decades. Instead, some of her family lobbed several questions at the district board to answer.

“For the selection of the site, was it chosen in the best interest of the public or were there other factors involved?” family member Kara Groff said.

The district says it narrowed the list down to six potential sites, choosing this one because they say it is the best for students, and wants to reach a fair settlement with property owners.

“The district is committed to making sure that we do right by all of the property owners that are affected by this building project,” district superintendent Dr. Fred Withum said.

The school district says it is continuing to negotiate in good faith with the property owners and is hoping to start construction by the summer.