Murt Backs Legislation to Strengthen Protections of Open Space
HARRISBURG—Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia) joined a bipartisan majority of his colleagues in supporting legislation to strengthen protections of land set aside as open space.

House Bill 2468 was introduced in response to the Lower Merion School District’s attempt to use eminent domain to acquire land from the 42-acre Stoneleigh Garden. The district wanted to use the land for a new middle school. But the land, recently opened as a public garden, was donated to the Natural Lands organization and is protected by a conservation easement.

“We must do everything we can to protect designated open space from governmental authorities, which can too easily use eminent domain to build on property set aside for outdoor public use,” Murt said.

House Bill 2468, which passed the House 179-18, would amend the Eminent Domain Code to add a new section requiring any government agency to obtain Orphans’ Court approval before using eminent domain to take permanently preserved land.

The procedure is similar to that found in the Agricultural Area Security Law, which requires additional scrutiny before condemnation of agricultural lands. The Orphans’ Court is given authority in the Donated and Dedicated Property Act over certain transactions related to publicly owned lands held for public uses.

The land at Stoneleigh was donated by the Haas family for the benefit of the public and the environment in perpetuity.

“The Lower Merion School Board’s decision is a blatant end run around the public interest,” Murt said. “We must to whatever we can to stop this.”

The bill now moves on to the Senate.

Representative Thomas P. Murt
152nd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
267.207.0207 /

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