Edmund P. Hannum Sp. Deputy Atty. Gen., Horace A. Segelbaum, Deputy Atty. Gen., T. McKeen Chidsey, Atty. Gen., for appellant.
Walter A. Herley, Coatesvill, Fred T. Cadmus, 3rd, West Chester, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross and Arnold, JJ.
[ 167 Pa. Super. Page 382]
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has appealed from an order of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Chester County directing it to issue a liquor license to John DiRocco, trading as DiRocco's Restaurant, appellee. The Board had refused to grant the license, but the court below sustained an appeal from the decision of the Board and ordered and directed that the license be issued.
The question involved is whether the learned court below was justified in directing the issuance of the license for premises which it found to be within 300 feet of a lot purchased by a school board 'on which no school building has been built, * * * though doubtless one will be but not before the expiration of the license applied for * * *.'
The solution of the question depends on what is meant by the word 'school' in section 403 of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Act of November 29, 1933, P.L. 15, as reenacted and amended, 47 P.S. § 744-403. The section contains the proviso: 'That, in the case of any new license or the transfer of any license to a new location, the board may, in its discretion, grant or refuse such new license or transfer if such place, proposed to be licensed, is within three hundred feet of any church, hospital, charitable institution, school or public playground * * *' Section 3, headed 'Interpretation of act,' 47 P.S. § 744-3(a), states: 'This act shall be deemed an exercise of the police power of the Commonwealth for the protection of the public welfare, health, peace and morals of the people
[ 167 Pa. Super. Page 383]
of the Commonwealth, and to prohibit forever the open saloon; and all of the provisions of this act shall be liberally construed for the accomplishment of this purpose.'
Since one of the purposes of the Act is to discourage the existence of places where alcoholic beverages are dispensed in the vicinity of schools and playgrounds, the Act must be liberally construed for the accomplishment of that purpose. To that end 'school', in our opinion, must be interpreted to mean the land owned by a school district for school purposes, and on which a school building is, or may be in process of being, erected.
The learned court below found that: 'The premises for which the license is sought are within three hundred feet of a lot of land owned by a school board and upon which a school is soon undoubtedly to be erected. A school building, capable of accommodating nine hundred pupils from fifteen to nineteen years of age, is to be completed within one year from the time the contract is let. * * * It is contemplated that another school unit on the same lot of land will subsequently be built to accommodate children from twelve to fifteen years of age, after which the total number of pupils in attendance at said school will be fourteen to fifteen hundred.' (Emphasis added.)
The West Chester Joint High School Board, which owns the land, vigorously protested the granting of the license. At the time of the hearing before the lower court test borings had been made upon the land, plans for the erection of the first building had been prepared and approved by the Department of Public Education, and the school board had advertised for bids for the construction of the building. A bond issue to provide funds for financing the project had been approved by the ...