Stop Coatesville's Condemnation of family farm to build a Golf Course

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SAVE Our FARM

The Saha family would like to thank you for your support over the past six years. Finally after six years of anguish and uncertainty and spending over $300,000 of their retirement savings in legal expenses, the nightmare is over! 

Dick and Nancy Saha have been fighting for six years against the City of Coatesville's abuse of eminent domain.  The Saha's have spent countless hours and most of their retirement savings in fighting this injustice. 

Coatesville’s City Council and Paul Janssen  have wasted effort, time and $3 million in legal fees, and have ended up with the same 5 acres of property the Saha’s offered them for free 6 years ago. 

The Saha's moved to Chester County with their five children in 1970 to pursue their dream of owning a small horse farm.  They worked hard to restore their 250-year-old farmhouse.

When two of  Mr. and Mrs. Saha's daughters married, they built their family homes on the farm as well. Now Dick & Nancy Saha enjoy seeing their five grandchildren growing up next door. 

 Six  years ago from "out of the blue", the Coatesville city manager and city solicitor knocked on Mr. Saha's place of business in Coatesville and told him the city of Coatesville was going to take his entire farm through eminent domain to build a golf course.

After loosing their battle in the courts, Dick and Nancy settle with the City of Coatesville.

On May 9, 2005, one week before election, when it was obvious the tide was turning on the incumbents, Saha and Coatesville City Council officially put an end Monday to the land dispute that has gone on for six years, costing the Saha’s over $300,000 in legal fees.

Under the agreement, the city and Dick and Nancy Saha agreed to terminate all litigation between them, including the revocation of the eminent domain case.  According to the agreement,  Sahas  agreed to sell the city five acres of land along an abandoned railroad bed for a price far less than the $300,000 they spent on legal fees.  In addition, Saha agreed to grant the city right of first refusal if his family ever chose to sell 26 acres of its property.(  Click here to see more pictures of the Saha farm.)

The Sahas first learned of Coatesville’s plans for their land in April 1999, when city council approved condemnation of seven properties, some of which were located in Valley and West Caln, to make way for a municipal golf course.

Since then, the Sahas have been fighting the city in the court of law and public opinion, while periodically attempting to negotiate a settlement.

Saha said that the  departure of City Manager Paul G. Janssen Jr. was a major breakthrough in resolving the dispute.  Janssen, who had championed the proposed 18-hole Iron Hawk Golf Course, resigned suddenly April 6 to take a job as municipal manager in Norristown.

City officials originally maintained that the proposed Iron Hawk Golf Course was essential to the success of the $60 million regional recreation center.  Saha was fighting eminent domain abuse, not the city’s redevelopment.  However, in total, the city spent about $8 million on land acquisition and legal fees associated with the golf course and regional recreation center.

In addition to legal fees, Dick Saha and his supporters spent countless hours fighting to save his farm.  "When we started out, our lawyers gave us a 5 percent chance of winning. They didn’t think we’d last this long," he said. "But I just hope that it gives hope to people who find themselves in the same position. Not false hope, but some hope."

 

Saha said the agreement was a win for property owners and a loss for eminent domain abuse.

"It’s something that had to be stopped sooner or later," Saha said.
"We send troops all over the world to protect people’s property and rights and we can’t protect our rights here at home. 

If you are new to the site, please read on. If you have visited previously, click here to get an update of recent developments.

What does condemnation mean?

Condemnation is a legal term; it by no means implies that the property is unkempt or unsafe.  Click here to see pictures of the Saha farm.  Eminent Domain is a law that gives a municipality the right to forcibly take private property for the good of the community, usually with compensation to the owner.

Stop local government from using eminent domain law to take private property (outside their municipality) to build a municipal golf course and golf related facilities.

 Help save our farm and fight future eminent domain abuse.

ISSUE:
We must Stop local government from using eminent domain law to take private property (outside their municipality) to build a municipal golf course and golf related facilities. And stop the threat of eminent domain law to be used to build other businesses (bowling alley, restaurant, ice rink, theater, batting cages, go-carts, hotel, conference center, boat, canoeing, and rock climbing). Help save our farm and fight future eminent domain abuse.

THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE WITH:

  •    Golf
  •    Coatesville Revitalization
  •    Recreational Centers

WHERE:
The City of Coatesville, PA, a third class city, Chester County, in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, is using eminent domain to build a golf course outside city limits in surrounding townships (Valley and West Caln).

WHEN:
The city tried to exercise eminent domain of homes and property for the golf course project back in April, 1999, but tabled the issue after the outrage that it created. June 26th, 2000, the Coatesville City council voted and passed 6 to 1 an ordinance to acquire property via eminent domain for the golf course. July 22, 2000, Dick and Nancy Saha received court papers from John Carnes, City Solicitor, that Coatesville filed a "Declaration of Taking to Condemn" at the Chester County Courthouse. Click here for a complete history of events.

WHO:
This action affected several land owners. This web page is maintained by the Saha family, who fought to save their 48 acre farm with restored historic home of 30 years. The City originally planned to leave the Sahas with a 6 acre parcel, separating them from the their children and grand children on adjacent lots. At several times during the long six year battle, they intended to condemn all the property. The Snyder family has been forced to sell their home to Coatesville. The Den Braven family is also affected. Altogether, nine properties were involved.

Did Coatesville need the Saha’s property?

The condemnation of the Saha property was never necessary to build the golf course.  Coatesville always had more than enough acreage for their project without taking the Saha homestead.

The original golf course plan, prepared in 1999,  did not include the Saha property in any way.  It included the city’s 110 acre landfill and a few surrounding properties.  Later, the City of Coatesville decided arbitrarily (without feasibility study or cost/benefit analysis) to condemn the Saha home.

In addition to the 110 acre landfill, the city has acquired more than 60 acres from other land owners.  There is an additional 62 acres adjacent to the Saha property that was for sale and has yet to be developed.  The city of Coatesville  never pursued using this property instead of the Saha farm. 

In addition, the city has entered into a conditional agreement of sale for another 64 acres to be used for their project.   Neither of these properties (totaling 126 acres) were part of the initial plan.

Clearly Coatesville has had enough land to build their golf course.  Still the city continued their assault on the Saha’s family and insisted that their property was needed for a “bigger plan”.

 This “bigger plan” still remains undefined. 

   

   E-mails are welcome at nrsaha@aol.com
or call Dick and Nancy Saha at 610-383-4295