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PETERSON v. PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY. (01/03/56)

January 3, 1956

PETERSON
v.
PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY.



Appeals, Nos. 190, 191, and 192, March T., 1955, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1953, No. 809, in case of Trustees of Second Presbyterian Congregation of Pittsburgh et al. v. Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh. Judgments affirmed.

COUNSEL

James M. Arensberg, with him Patterson, Crawford, Arensberg & Dunn, for appellant.

Henry C. Herchenroether, Jr., with him James K. S. Ruby, and Alter, Wright & Barron, for appellees.

Leonard Boreman, with him Sidney Gottlieb, for appellees.

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

Author: Musmanno

[ 383 Pa. Page 385]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

F. Somers Peterson is the owner of a lot located at Penn Avenue and Ninth Street in the Second Ward of Pittsburgh, having erected thereon certain buildings belonging to Arbuthnot-Stephenson Company, the lessee of the lot. The Trustees of the Second Presbyterian Congregation of Pittsburgh own a piece of land, with a church thereon, adjoining the Peterson lot.

On March 29, 1951, the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh, acquired by condemnation, for public parking purposes, what is known as "Site Y" touching the properties above mentioned. Prior to the condemnation Peterson and the Second Presbyterian Church had access to certain alleys (Duquesne Court, an unnamed twenty-foot-wide alley leading from Duquesne Court to Ninth Street, and two ten-foot-wide alleys, called Alley B and Alley D.) After the defendant's condemnation of Site Y, the City Council of Pittsburgh vacated these alleys by ordinance, and the question arose as to whether Peterson, Arbuthnot-Stephenson, and the Second Presbyterian Church, the plaintiffs in this case, possessed private rights or easements of access in those alleys, the loss of which entitled them to compensation. The Board

[ 383 Pa. Page 386]

    of Viewers allowed the plaintiffs nothing, but the Court of Common Pleas, by jury trial, awarded Peterson $20,000 with $3,000 detention money, Arbuthnot-Stephenson $10,000 with $1,500 detention money, and the Trustee of the Church $32,000 with $5,000 detention money.

In its appeal to this Court, the defendant contends that whatever rights the plaintiffs may have had in the extinguished passageways were those of the public generally; therefore, the loss of those public rights was caused by the City's vacation of the alleys, and not by the defendant's condemnation proceedings since the defendant would have no right to condemn property devoted to a public use (Act of June 5, 1947, P.L. 458, ยง 10; 53 P.S. 10.279).

The plaintiffs contend, on the other hand, that they acquired private rights in the alleys through their predecessors in title by virtue of the fact that these properties constituted part of the McCormick plan of lots laid out in 1839 by all the owners of the tract, the entitling Deed of Partition having described the passageways as ...


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