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OLIVER (ET AL. v. CLAIRTON (06/26/53)

June 26, 1953

OLIVER (ET AL., APPELLANT)
v.
CLAIRTON



Appeal, No. 134, March T., 1953, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1952, No. 931, in case of Matthew P. Oliver and Herman H. Recht v. City of Clairton et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

John B. Nicklas, Jr., with him James P. Gill, for appellant.

John A. Metz, Jr., with him Metz & Metz and Stokes & Lurie, for appellees.

Howard E. Stern, with him Milton C. Sharp, for Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia, amicus curiae.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Stern

[ 374 Pa. Page 335]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

The original plaintiff, Matthew P. Oliver, is the owner of two lots of ground in the City of Clairton. The Planning Commission of that city certified as "blighted" a certain area which included his land; it transmitted this information to the Redevelopment Authority and to the City Council. The Authority prepared a redevelopment proposal and executed a redevelopment contract with the Pennsylvania Industrial Chemical Corporation as Redeveloper; the Planning Commission having approved the proposal, the Authority submitted it to the City Council together with the proposed redevelopment contract. The City Council, pursuant to advertised notice, held a public he ring and subsequently adopted resolutions approving the proposal, the redevelopment contract and a lease agreement which was referred to therein. Oliver, who had vigorously opposed the entire project, filed a bill of complaint against the City, the Councilmen, the Authority and the Redeveloper, asserting that the Planning Commission, in certifying the area as blighted, had acted arbitrarily and in

[ 374 Pa. Page 336]

    bad faith and had not complied with the requirements of the Urban Redevelopment Law, and that the redevelopment contract did not comply with the provisions of the act. The bill prayed that all the proceedings should be adjudged null and void and that defendants should be enjoined from taking any steps to acquire plaintiff's land by the exercise of the power of eminent domain. Answers having been filed, the court held a hearing, as a result of which it dismissed the bill. Oliver, the plaintiff, has not appealed from that decree, but one Herman H. Recht, alleging that he was the owner of a one-sixth undivided interest in several lots, on some of which buildings were erected, petitioned, when the hearing began before the court below, to be allowed to intervene. This permission was granted and it is he who now appeals from the court's decree.

It may be said at the outset that none of the accusations of bad faith and fraud made against defendants finds any support whatever in the testimony. There is not a scintilla of evidence sufficient to create even suspicions, much less proofs, that would justify such an attack. It was not shown that any of the members of the Planning Commission, the Authority or the City Council, had any selfish or personal interest whatever in the redevelopment project. Its underlying purpose was to induce the Redeveloper to remain in the City of Clairton and expand its facilities there, and to make the redeveloped land an industrial area which would add to the resources and prosperity of the city. There is nothing to indicate that the Planning Commission, the Authority or the City Council, acted arbitrarily, capriciously, secretively, or with undue haste; on the contrary there was reasonable deliberation on the part of all these bodies throughout, the project being consummated only after the proceedings had consumed a period of almost a year. Ample notice was given to the

[ 374 Pa. Page 337]

    public and full opportunity afforded to both the plaintiff and the intervening plaintiff to present and discuss their objections, an opportunity of which they fully availed themselves, being represented at all stages by able counsel. The chancellor found as a face that the members of the Planning Commission had personally examined the area, had received and considered numerous documents and reports pertaining to the land, and had even hired an independent planning organization to investigate the area and render a report on its condition. In transmitting its own findings to the Authority and the City Council they recited nine important benefits that would accrue from the redevelopment of the area and which influenced their decision to certify it as blighted and to approve the redevelopment proposal. In short, we agree with the finding of the ...


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