Appeal, No. 211, March T., 1960, from order of Court of Quarter Sessions of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1959, No. 92, in case of Robert W. McArthur et al. v. Township of Mt. Lebanon. Order vacated.
Frank L. Seamans, with him Donald C. Winson, and Eckert, Seamans & Cherin, for appellant.
Jack W. Plowman, with him Robert Raphael, and Rose, Houston, Cooper and Schmidt, for appellees.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN.
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Allegheny County declaring an ordinance null and void.
The Township of Mt. Lebanon, defendant-appellant, enacted an ordinance purporting to condemn a portion of the property belonging to plaintiffs-appellees for a "walkway" which would serve primarily as a passageway for school children.
The appellees filed a complaint with the court below challenging the legality of the ordinance and claiming that a first class township was not empowered to exercise the power of eminent domain for such purposes. The appellant maintained that the township was empowered to enact such an eminent domain ordinance and also asserted that the court of quarter sessions did not have jurisdiction to consider the substantive question, but was limited to deciding questions of procedural irregularities in the ordinance's enactment. After testimony the court below ruled that the ordinance was null and void since the appellant did not have the statutory authority to enact said ordinance. This appeal followed.
We must vacate the order since the court of quarter sessions exceeded its powers by considering matters other than the regularity of the procedure followed in enacting the ordinance.
The complaint was filed in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Allegheny County under the provisions of Clause I, Section 1502, of the First Class Township Code of June 24, 1931, P.L. 1206, as amended, 53 PS § 56502 which provides, inter alia, as follows: "Complaint as to the legality of any ordinance or resolution may be made to the court of quarter sessions upon entering into bond with sufficient security to be approved by the court to prosecute the same with effect and for the payment of costs by any person aggrieved, within thirty days after any ordinance or resolution takes effect. The determination and the order of the court thereon shall be conclusive. In cases of the laying out of streets over private property the court shall have jurisdiction to review the propriety as well as the legality of the ordinance."
The purpose of § 1502, as indicated in Griffith v. McCandless Township, 366 Pa. 309, 313, 77 A.2d 430 (1951), and Wynnewood Civic Association v. Lower Merion Township, 180 Pa. Superior Ct. 453, 119 A.2d 799 (1956), is to provide a fast and efficient method to question the legality of the procedure involved in the adoption of a first class township ordinance. Thus, these matters can be litigated while witnesses are available and their recollections fresh. A need for the procedure set forth in § 1502 is obvious since it is highly undesirable to have ordinances, long recognized and accepted as the law, declared illegal years after their passage because of procedural defects. ...