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EWAYS v. READING PARKING AUTHORITY (06/25/56)

June 25, 1956

EWAYS
v.
READING PARKING AUTHORITY, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 130 and 131, Jan. T., 1956, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, 1955, No. 2628, Equity Docket, in case of Joseph M. Eways and Joseph A. Kitzmiller et ux. v. Reading Parking Authority and City of Reading. Decree reversed; reargument refused August 13, 1956.

COUNSEL

Charles H. Weidner, with him George F. Baer Appeal, William R. Lessig, Townsend, Elliott & Munson and Stevens & Lee, for Reading Parking Authority, appellant.

James F. Marx, First Assistant City Solicitor, with him Daniel H. Huyett, III, City Solicitor, for City of Reading, appellant.

V. M. Casey, with him Charles J. Margiotti, Emanuel Weiss and Margiotti & Casey, for appellees.

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

Author: Bell

[ 385 Pa. Page 594]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

The lower Court enjoined the Reading Parking Authority from eminent domain proceedings to acquire plaintiffs' properties. Plaintiffs' properties, as well as the properties of Whitner Company, were situate or contained within Site F.

[ 385 Pa. Page 595]

Did the Court below err in finding the Authority, which was created to construct an off-street parking facilities project, guilty of a manifest abuse of discretion and illegality in selecting Site F for a public parking facility?

The Reading Parking Authority was incorporated pursuant to an ordinance of City Council on September 9, 1953, under the "Parking Authority Law" of June 5, 1947, P.L. 458, as amended, 53 PS § 10279. Section 9, as amended, provides: "The Authority shall have the power to acquire by purchase or eminent domain proceedings either the fee or such rights, title, interest or easement in such lands, as the Authority may deem necessary for any of the purposes mentioned in this act."

Among the enumerated purposes of the Act were the establishment of a permanent coordinated system of parking facilities, acquiring, owning and leasing land and facilities to be devoted to the parking of vehicles of any kind, the parking facilities to be for the fulfillment of public needs in relation to parking; Section 5, Act of June 5, 1947, P.L. 458, as amended, 53 PS § 10275, page 87.

The City of Reading was confronted by grave parking and traffic problems, and the Reading Parking Authority was created to eliminate these problems and to develop a comprehensive off-street public parking project or program. The Authority employed the engineering consultant firm of Ramp Building Corporation. The engineering firm made numerous and detailed traffic studies, and thereafter submitted a survey and report to the Authority in which it recommended that certain locations referred to as Sties A, B, C and D, be used for immediate development, and Sites E, F and G, for secondary development. The Authority decided that Site D was unacceptable and, with the approval of the engineering

[ 385 Pa. Page 596]

    firm - this was advisable but entirely unnecessary - the Authority, by appropriate Resolution dated October 27, 1954, added to its primary or immediate program Site F.*fn* This was the action which the lower Court considered to be a manifest abuse of discretion and illegal.

On December 22, 1954, the Parking Authority adopted a Resolution authorizing the execution of a lease to the City of Reading and a bond issue to obtain cash to acquire necessary properties and erect planned facilities.

On December 29, 1954, the Authority entered into a lease with the City of Reading, dated as of December 1, 1954, leasing to the City for 30 years the parking lots in Sites A, B, C, E and F, at a yearly rental of $63,000, and pledged the lease under an indenture securing $990,000. Worth of Parking Authority bonds, which were delivered and paid for on December 29, 1954. The proceeds of these bonds were (as above mentioned) to be used for acquiring the properties enumerated in said Sites and constructing the parking facilities thereon.

On January 6, 1955, the Parking Authority adopted a Resolution that negotiations be conducted for acquisition of the properties which were situate or contained in the primary or immediate program.

On April 22, 1955, condemnation Resolution No. 2 of the Reading Parking Authority was adopted, condemning Eways's properties which are situate in Site F. The Authority never adopted any Resolution specifically condemning the property of Mr. and Mrs. Katzmiller.

On May 10, 1955, the Authority entered into a written agreement with the Whitner Company to purchase its properties which ...


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