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ST. PETER'S ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH v. URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PITTSBURGH. (12/04/58)

December 4, 1958

ST. PETER'S ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH, APPELLANT,
v.
URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF PITTSBURGH.



Appeal, No. 235, March T., 1958, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1958, No. 3549, in case of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Parish et al. v. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh et al. Order affirmed; reargument refused December 30, 1958.

COUNSEL

Louis C. Glasso, for appellant.

Theodore L. Hazlett, Jr., for Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, appellee.

J. Frank McKenna, Jr., City Solicitor, with him Mead J. Mulvihill, Jr. and David Stahl, Assistant City Solicitors, for City of Pittsburgh, appellee.

Joseph R. Doherty, with him McCloskey, Best & Leslie, for Most Reverend John F. Dearden, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen and Bok, JJ.

Author: Bok

[ 394 Pa. Page 196]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK.

We are asked to pass upon preliminary objections, sustained by the court below, to a complaint in equity. The suit was brought by the parishioners, patrons, and members of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, as plaintiff, against the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, the City of Pittsburgh, and the Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The complaint refers to various documents in order to establish the plaintiff's claim but contains only one of them as an exhibit. The preliminary objections attach the others. Ordinarily the court may not, on demurrer, consider matters beyond the pleading opposed, but under the circumstances above mentioned the instruments may be referred to: Detweiler v. Hatfield Borough School District, 376 Pa. 555 (1954).

From these documents and the complaint, twice amended, the following facts appear:

In 1950 and 1951 an area of over ninety acres in the center of Pittsburgh was certified by the City Planning Commission to the Authority for redevelopment as a blighted area. The Authority submitted the proposal, with plan, to the Council of the City, which fixed July 6, 1955, as the time for a public hearing. This having been held, Council approved the project by ordinance. Plaintiff's church is located in the area, and so is another known as Epiphany Church.

The Authority took proper corporate action on October 2, 1957, to condemn plaintiff's land. Believing that execution of the redevelopment plan would require the razing of both churches, the members of the

[ 394 Pa. Page 197]

    plaintiff parish did not attend the public hearing, alleging that they did not wish to interfere with progress. The Authority then exempted Epiphany Church from the project and entered into a bond and later an agreement with the bishop, dated February 25 and 27, 1958. By this agreement the bishop accepted as damages the sum of $1,240,000 in compromise settlement of the taking and destruction of St. Peter's Church. The bond and agreement were neither reported to the plaintiff parish by the bishop nor approved by it. This suit followed.

The complaint charges abuse of the Authority's discretion, discrimination, and capricious and arbitrary action. The reasons given have to do with the nature and purpose of the ...


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