Downingtown Area School District votes to start eminent domain process of buying up acres of private property

The Downingtown Area School District voted to start the eminent domain process at a school board meeting Wednesday night. The decision has left families and business owners upset. 

A big six-bedroom Victorian in Downingtown seems a little empty these days because the Gilliland family stopped accepting foster children. They had no choice when they got a registered letter in the mail from the Downingtown Area School District telling the family the district wants their home.

"I really don’t want to lose my home. This is what I worked hard for to raise my family here in Downingtown and just would be really devastating," homeowner Hunter Gilliland said.

The school district voted Wednesday night to start the eminent domain process of buying up acres of private property, including homes and businesses off of Brandywine Avenue in East Caln Township. The Gilliland family was in tears as the vote came down.

As the district gets ready to spend millions of dollars on land, there isn't a time real time frame if or when a school will actually be built.

"We are going to need to build another school in the future, so it is just determining what the best course of action would be," school district official Jennifer Shealy said.

The potential sale may mean the end of yoga classes at Dr. Kathleen West's wellness center, which is another property the district wants to buy. The West family spent the last five years renovating the property and now the future of their business is up in the air.

"It's amazing to me that the school board can vote tonight whether or not they’ll claim these properties when the community didn’t even know until last week," West said.