Action Plan to Oppose Condemnation of Ludwig’s Corner Horse Property
By: Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello
The hostile taking of the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show grounds by West Vincent Township has understandably provoked outrage by equestrian and property rights advocates across northern Chester County. While condemnation has been held a permitted constitutional exercise by government, the taking of equestrian recreational grounds against the landowners’ will, even if legal, is wrong.
The Township has cited a Northern Federation Regional Recreational Study as a justification for the taking of the land for a different type of recreational use. The study hasn’t been approved. Nor did the Township explain why residents heard about this condemnation for the first time when the condemnation vote was taken. In short, there is a lack of transparency that is concerning.
The Township seems to assume that they will receive grant funding from the County and State.
As a County Commissioner, I will oppose any grant application for Ludwigs Corner if this ground is condemned against the will of the landowner. Without funding from other government agencies, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the acquisition and development of a park to occur without an overwhelming expenditure from West Vincent. This may force West Vincent Supervisors to reconsider where and how they go about locating a new recreational park.
While the County Commissioners can prevent county taxpayers from subsidizing a future park taken by hostile condemnation, additional action is needed by residents, including:
1. Petitioning the Northern Federation municipalities (East Vincent, North, South and East Coventry, East Nantmeal and Warwick) to pass a Resolution opposing the hostile condemnation and, even more importantly, requesting that they refuse to approve the Regional Recreational Plan without language in the Plan that prohibits the hostile condemnation from a landowner by a Township, against the agreement of the landowner. This will freeze the ability of West Vincent to obtain multi-municipal cooperation from the Northern Federation for any regional grant money.
2. Writing state legislators asking that they oppose any grant funding request to state agencies for the Ludwigs Corner property, if West Vincent condemns without the agreement of the landowner.
A multi-municipal, county and state rejection of the way West Vincent has conducted itself is the best defense to this land grab. By refusing to award grant funding requests if the ground is taken against the will of the landowner, can have the collateral effect of isolating West Vincent from their traditional funding partners.
This issue has nothing to do with a willing landowner selling ground for a recreational park, nor do I suggest that a recreational park at Ludwigs Corner is a bad idea. Perhaps there can be a new recreational park in West Vincent with regional and county involvement; but not at this location, without agreement of the landowner. The lack of public dialogue, and the faulty assumption that the County and State will willingly provide funding assistance in an instance where a property has been acrimoniously condemned, will hopefully cause the Township to reconsider its recent decision.
As a County Commissioner who may ultimately
have a little say over whether to award a grant to a Ludwigs
Corner park if the Township proceeds with condemnation, I say no
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