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  • Terry Rumsey

This is NOT a taking

Some of you may have heard rumors that Media Borough Council is trying to conduct a “taking” of Broomall’s Lake Country Club’s private property by changing the Broomall’s tract zoning from Residential to Municipal, Educational, Recreational, and Community (MERC).

The Club’s Board of Director’s posted this alarmist information of their website:

“The proposed zoning change from R2 to MERC in our opinion would not only devalue the property …but would open the property up to PUBLIC USE… The Board will do all within its power to protect the membership from this attempted taking of the property.”

Some of the Club’s leaders of may be confusing the practice of employing eminent domain – in which a local government takes ownership of private property for public use (e.g. for building a road) – with the Council’s proposal to simply change the Club’s zoning classification.

In fact, changing the tax-exempt organization’s zoning classification to MERC does NOT mean the Borough will own the Club or that it can dictate Club policies. The Club can continue to operate as a private educational and recreational nonprofit organization, as it has done for nearly 100 years.

Private property rights are not absolute. The zoning power of local government must be fair, consistent, and reasonable, but local government has the right and obligation under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Code to use zoning ordinances for the “public welfare… and preservation of forests, wetlands, aquifers and floodplains…” Inevitably, zoning decisions may sometimes result in a limitation being placed on a private property owner (e.g. homeowners in a residential area are not permitted to operate retail businesses, even though it’s their private property and it could be financially beneficial).

The proposed zoning reclassification is consistent with the historic and current use of the Club’s land, and it’s also consistent with the zoning classification of the other major tract of land in the surrounding area, the adjacent 33-acre Glen Providence Park. The Borough Council is addressing a legitimate community interest in preventing the construction of townhouses and preserving the existing 45-acre “green belt” of Western Media.

This is NOT a taking.

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