Upper Gwynedd Battles Over Last Large Undeveloped Parcel of Land

Dave Kinion has called the Martin Tract in Upper Gwynedd home.
Image via The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Dave Kinion has called the Martin Tract in Upper Gwynedd home for more than 15 years

Last fall, Upper Gwynedd was prepared to deploy eminent domain in order to acquire Martin Tract – a nearly 33-acre parcel that remains Montgomery County’s largest undeveloped property, writes Kevin Riordan for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

However, a well-organized and unexpected opposition campaign involving the owner of the parcel as well as other local residents, politicians, and tenants on the property has forced the Upper Gwynedd Board of Commissioners to delay the decision to take the land.

“What’s happening here is part of a bigger national picture of government overreach,” said Dave Kinion, longtime Martin Tract tenant.

Officials in the township say that eminent domain became an issue before the fall local election due to the term being politicized, with certain opponents claiming Upper Gwynedd was trying to evict the tenants and create unnecessary parkland in Martin Tract.

For now, the future of Martin Tract remains uncertain.

The few buildings with residents on the property have set up signs asking the commissioners not to condemn their homes.

Meanwhile, an over 200-page plan designating Martin Tract as a recreational space has a guide for development through 2040, showing that the conversation about open space will remain ongoing.

“The comprehensive plan represents three years of us having conversations with anyone who wanted to be part of the planning process,” said Denise Hull, president of the board of commissioners. “Some residents say their voices were unheard, and this pause is about us having more conversations.”

Read more about the parcel of land in question in The Philadelphia Inquirer.