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SECOND CHURCH CHRIST SCIENTIST PHILADELPHIA v. PHILADELPHIA (12/30/59)

December 30, 1959

SECOND CHURCH OF CHRIST SCIENTIST OF PHILADELPHIA
v.
PHILADELPHIA, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 338 and 339, Jan. T., 1959, from judgment of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1959, Nos. 32 and 33, reversing final orders of Court of Common Pleas No. 6 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1956, Nos 9104 and 9103, in case of Second Church of Christ Scientist of Philadelphia et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al. Judgments reversed; reargument refused January 25, 1960. Same case in Superior Court: 189 Pa. Super.Ct. 579. Appeals of plaintiffs from decision of board of revision of taxes denying applications for exemption from taxes on parking lots. Before LEVINTHAL, J., without a jury. Orders entered dismissing appeals and affirming decisions of Board. Plaintiffs appealed to Superior Court which reversed orders, opinion by WOODSIDE, J., RHODES, P.J., and WRIGHT, J., dissenting. Appeal to Supreme Court allowed.

COUNSEL

David Berger, City Solicitor, with him Yale B. Bernstein, Assistant City Solicitor, and James L. Stern, Deputy City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellants.

Henry T. Reath, with him Duane, Morris & Heckscher, for appellees.

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

Author: Bok

[ 398 Pa. Page 66]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BOK

Two churches have sought exemption from City and School real estate taxation on parking lots created by them on their land contiguous to the church buildings. The lower court denied the exemption and the Superior Court reversed. We have taken the case on allocatur.

Although the churches are in different parts of Philadelphia, the essential facts, which are simple and not in dispute, are alike. The land in both cases is used solely for parking, no religious services are held on it, and it is not needed for ingress or egress or for light and air.

The churches argue that a parking lot is necessary in this modern age, not only as a needed convenience but as an adjunct necessary to the church's fulfilling its purpose as a place of worship. We cannot credit this argument.

It should be clearly borne in mind that the issue is not whether these churches may have parking lots on their land but only whether the ones they have are to be taxable or exempt. We think they are taxable.

The State Constitution, in Article IX, § 1, provides: "... the General Assembly may, by general laws, exempt from taxation public property used for public purposes, actual places of religious worship, places of burial not used or held for private or corporate profit, institutions of purely public charity, and real and personal property owned, occupied and used by any branch,

[ 398 Pa. Page 67]

    post, or camp of honorably discharged soldiers, ...


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