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November 27, 1956


Appeals, Nos. 210 and 211, March T., 1956, and No. 28, March T., 1957, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Apr. T., 1955, No. 604, in re Appeal of Township of Moon and Moon Schools Union School District. Order affirmed; reargument refused December 21, 1956.


Robert Van Der Voort, Solicitor, with him John F. Healy, and Van Der Voort, Royston, Robb & Leonard, for township and school district.

Maurice Louik, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Nathaniel K. Beck, County Solicitor, and Philip Baskin, Assistant County Solicitor, for County and Board of Property Assessment.

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

Author: Stern

[ 387 Pa. Page 146]


The problem here relates to the taxability of certain portions of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. The Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County assessed the property of the Airport for the year 1953 at a total of $12,913,139, of which $5,451,849 was allocated to land and $7,461,290 to buildings, all of which was placed by the Board in the tax exempt column. The Township of Moon, in which 930 of the 1540 acres of the Airport are located, and the Moon Schools Union School District, appealed to the Court of Common Pleas from this action of the Board, claiming that a large part of the Airport should not have been declared tax exempt. The County of Allegheny, which is the owner of the Airport, intervened in the proceedings. The court below concluded that certain portions of the property which it enumerated were taxable, others not. The Board of Property Assessment and the County of Allegheny appeal from the order of the court to that effect.*fn*

The Greater Pittsburgh Airport contains the usual runways, hangars, and taxi and loading apron areas, also a Terminal Building said to be the largest of its kind in the United States, two outdoor parking lots holding 1200 cars each, an automobile service station and a radar station, together with a number of other structures including two small dwelling houses. The

[ 387 Pa. Page 147]

Terminal Building itself is a multi-story building, the first or main floor of which contains the ticket offices for the various air lines and most of the concession areas hereinafter referred to; on the other floors are located the offices of the Weather Bureau, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and some additional concession areas; the Federal Government also maintains a post office department in the building. Approximately 100 acres of the Airport property are allocated to Federal military use, including the housing of its personnel, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has its own buildings on the Airport.

The concessions above referred to are agreements entered into by Allegheny County as owner of the Airport, whereby it rents large amounts of space in the Terminal Building and area adjacent thereto to private individuals and corporations for the carrying on therein of private business for profit. The agreements provide for the payment to the County of a net minimum amount per month and, in addition thereto, a percentage of the gross sales; the concessionaire also agrees to indemnify the County from all liability for taxes or assessments that may be levied upon it because of the concessionaire's operations. The business activities carried on in the Terminal Building by these concessionaires are as follows: jewelry store, display windows and display areas, drugstore, news stand, 60-room hotel, night club, banquet rooms, coffee shop, cafeteria, cocktail lounge, tavern, service bar and roof patio, sandwich shop, bakery, check rooms, roof garden restaurant and cafe, amusement arcade, barber shop, confectionery, parking garage (indoor), women's apparel shop, garbage and rubbish collection service, dairy bar, toy shop, car rental service, fruit store, wholesale lumber sales office, catering service, insurance

[ 387 Pa. Page 148]

    agency, taxi service, limousine service, gift shop, motion picture theatre, linen supply service, coin-operated binoculars, parcel lockers, toy sales stand, steel company sales office, private lounge and bar, bank, and real estate office. The outside areas leased to concessionaires are the parking lots, the refreshment stand, comfort station and automobile service station, while the two dwelling houses are rented to private individuals. Of all these activities the court held that only the areas occupied by the coffee shop, cafeteria, sandwich shop, check rooms, ...

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