John A. Metz, Jr., Metz & Metz, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Louis Rosenberg, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross and Fine, JJ.
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 559]
These cases arose on complaints to the lower court authorized by Article X, § 1010 of the Act of May 4, 1927, P.L. 519, as amended by The Borough Code of July 10, 1947, P.L. 1621, 53 P.S. § 12900 to test the legality of two related ordinances of Pleasant Hills Borough, Allegheny County. Plaintiff James F. Palumbo has appealed from the adjudication of the lower court sustaining the ordinances as valid exercises of the police power. This plaintiff is within the class of those whose property will be affected by the enforcement of the ordinances and he therefore is a proper appellant as a person aggrieved under the admitted facts.
Appellant is the lessee of a 3 1/2 acre tract of land in the borough on which he since 1942 has maintained a trailer camp accommodating more than twenty trailers. These trailers are immobile and have been occupied on long term contracts by family units, including children. In law these trailers are dwelling houses. Lower Merion Twp. v. Gallup, 158 Pa. Super. 572, 46 A.2d 35. On the premises there is also a permanent building used as an apartment hotel occupied by about 10 additional families. In a small one story building on the land, appellant conducts the corporate business of Cloverleaf Trailer Sales Company. There are no sanitary
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 560]
sewers serving the property and sewage from the buildings and the trailers has been discharged into a group of septic tanks on the premises which are insufficient for the purpose of disposal. Prior to August 1949 the effluent from these tanks was drawn off into sub service leeching beds. Because of the excessive volume of sewage this was an inadequate means of disposal and effluent from the tanks seeped into Lebanon Church Road. In an action in equity brought by affected property owners, abatement of the nuisance was ordered. Since July 13, 1948, after plaintiff had been cited for contempt for failure to comply with the above restraining order, he has disposed of the effluent from the septic tanks by discharging it into a tank truck which, as found by the lower court: 'was placed in a concrete pit on the premises near Lebanon Church Road, which tank truck was emptied twice every twenty-four (24) hours at a point removed from the tract occupied by appellant; during the interval of the truck's absence from the premises, the effluent flowed into a 1500 gallon reserve tank, buried in the ground on the premises, near the pit aforesaid; the transfer of the flow of the effluent from the line running directly to the tank truck to the reserve tank was accomplished by certain valves; except for the line to the tank truck from the valve which was flexible hose, all lines were of permanent construction; some drippings from the flexible hose accumulated in the pit and from there, at times, flowed into the gutter alongside Lebanon Church Road, although there was a sewer drop in the pit; the amount of this accumulation was not enough to give off sufficient odor to be detectable by the inhabitants of the camp.' The lower court on undisputed testimony also found: 'The character of the terrain on the tract involved is such as will not successfully accommodate the effluent normally resulting
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 561]
from the occupancy of more than twenty (20) trailers, the hotel and salesroom or from the needs of sixty (60) persons living therein. It is impractical to pipe the effluent to leeching beds located off the premises. There is inadequate space on the separate site of each trailer to place a separate septic tank and absorption facilities. There is no sanitary sewerage system available to appellant. The present system of sewage disposal, now in operation on appellant's premises, is adequate and presents no health problem within the Borough of Pleasant Hills, if properly operated.'
The rapid development of the section of the township for residence purposes which led to the incorporation of the borough in 1946, Pleasant Hills Borough, Inc., Case, 161 Pa. Super. 259, 53 A.2d 882, stressed the necessity for the regulation of sewage disposal in the interest of public health and the general welfare of the people. Both of the ordinances in question became effective on February 9, 1948. It is conceded, as it must be, that both have a recognized police purpose with a proper relation to the object to be attained. Appellant's single complaint is that the lower court refused to consider whether the ordinances were reasonable regulations in determining the question of their validity.
Ordinance number 24, under an appropriate title, made it unlawful to permit the flow of 'waste, sewage, feces, used water, or other similar foul matter except into a sanitary sewer system or into a septic tank'. The ordinance required approval of newly installed septic tanks prior to use and, as to others then in use, provided: 'All septic tanks now in use or hereafter to be constructed shall comply with the following requirements and specifications; single family units a tank ...