Eminent Domain Ordinance Approved to Fast Track 911 Towers

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Last Thursday, the Cambria County (PA) Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance authorizing the county to “utilize its power of eminent domain to acquire property…to assist in the completion of the 911 system upgrade project.” The Tribune-Democrat reported the county wants to acquire at least two sites to build towers for the public safety system, although the project requires five towers in total.

Motorola Solutions Inc. was awarded the $16.9 million contract for the upgrade since the current system leaves first responders with “dead zones” throughout the county. According to Cambria County Solicitor William Gleason Barbin, Motorola has already identified five tower sites — 75-by-75-feet each with a strip of road — to improve coverage. 

Two sites identified are owned by the Northern Cambria Municipal Authority, and Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority with the other three sites owned by private individuals, reported the Tribune-Democrat. Barbin said the county has negotiated an agreement for one of the privately-owned locations but is still working on the other two. One property owner has asked for “an unreasonably large amount of money,” and the other refuses to communicate with the county, said Barbin.

“We don’t have time to sit around with this,” Barbin said, “or else Motorola’s going to be able to claim a delay and either ask for more money or slow down their performance. We don’t want either one to happen…In order not to delay, we need to have this authorization.”

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