By: Amanda Sundquist
Does your municipality have dedicated or donated property? Are you considering changing the use of that property?
In a recent case, the City of Erie filed a petition under the Donated or Dedicated Property Act to abandon the use of dedicated public property known as the Erie Golf Course for a number of reasons, one being that it was draining revenue from the City. The trial court denied the petition, finding the City was required to maintain the property as a park or a golf course due to deed restrictions on property since 1926. However, on appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the City was able to show sufficient financial evidence of the ongoing need to cover golf course losses with general fund revenue and thus support its argument that the golf course use of the property was no longer practicable. The Commonwealth Court reversed the trial court and granted the City’s petition to abandon. This case is significant in that the Commonwealth Court found that the Donated or Dedicated Property Act, rather than common law public trust doctrine governed the City’s petition, overruling previous cases to the contrary. See In Re: Erie Golf Course, 963 A.2d 605 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2009).
For additional information about how this may apply to dedicated or donated property in your municipality, please contact Amanda Sundquist.