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DESANTO v. COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP (ET AL. (06/28/62)

June 28, 1962

DESANTO
v.
COOLBAUGH TOWNSHIP (ET AL., APPELLANT).



Appeal, No. 409, Jan. T., 1960, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, May T., 1940, No. 54, in case of John F. DeSanto v. The Township of Coolbaugh, The School District of Coolbaugh Township, C. F. Huey, Tax Collector of the Township of Coolbaugh, and Stanley Quick, Assessor. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Charles Bensinger, with him R. L. Mervine, and Bensinger & Bensinger, for appealed.

James T. Kitson, with him George T. Robinson, for appellees.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 408 Pa. Page 143]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

In 1938, John DeSanto became the owner in fee simple of a tract of land situate in Monroe County. The property in question is improved by a large mansion house in which DeSanto operates a hotel business with licensed bar.

For many years the location of the boundary line between the Township of Tobyhanna (an appellant), and the Township of Coolbaugh (an appellee), was in doubt, particularly in the area of the DeSanto property. For the year 1938 and for many years prior thereto, the premises now belonging to DeSanto was assessed in Coolbaugh Township and the various taxes were paid to the Coolbaugh Township tax collector.

Upon acquiring title to the property in 1938, however, DeSanto notified the commissioners of Monroe County in writing, as required by the Act of 1933, May 22, P.L. 853, § 413, 72 P.S. § 5020-413, that he had elected to choose appellant township as the place of residence of the occupants of his property and that he wished his property to be assessed in said township. The relevant portion of the Act of 1933 provides: "Whenever the dividing line between any township and city or borough, or between any two townships, as now or may be hereafter located, shall pass through the mansion house of any tract of land, the owner of the land so divided may choose, as the place of residence of its occupants, either of the townships or the borough,

[ 408 Pa. Page 144]

    by a written notice of his election to the commissioners of the county. A choice once so made shall be binding on the owner and occupiers of such mansion house and on future owners thereof. In case of the neglect or refusal of the owner of such land to make an election as aforesaid, the persons occupying said mansion house shall be regarded as residing wholly within the township, and the elected or appointed assessors of such township shall, in such case, or when he elects to reside in the township, assess therein such persons, and all the tract of land on which such mansion house is erected." (72 P.S. § 5020-413).

Again in 1945, DeSanto advised the commissioners of Monroe County in writing to the same intent and effect in order to comply with the Act of 1943, May 21, P.L. 571, § 610, 72 P.S. § 5453.610, which repealed and reenacted the above-quoted section of the Act of 1933 and has wording identical with the latter.

Notwithstanding the election by DeSanto for the year 1939 (and thereafter until the present time) the property ...


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