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MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP APPEAL. (11/13/62)

November 13, 1962

MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP APPEAL.


Appeal, No. 181, March T., 1962, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1961, No. 3165, in re petition of Township of McCandless for appointment of viewers, etc. Order vacated; reargument refused December 19, 1962.

COUNSEL

James W. Dunn, Jr., with him Scott, Neely & Dunn, for appellant.

John O. Wicks, Jr., for appellees.

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

Author: Jones

[ 409 Pa. Page 284]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

The Board of Commissioners of McCandless Township (Township), Allegheny County, by ordinance, authorized the construction of water lines in Water District No. 2A in said Township. By virtue thereof, 5469 feet of water lines were installed by the West View Water Authority (Authority) under a contract with McCandless Township.*fn1 The Authority's total cost for the installation of these lines was $47,704.43 of which $37,932.99 was charged to the Township in accordance with the Township-Authority contract. The addition of engineering, legal and other costs to the contract price increased the ultimate cost to the Township for the total project to $41,841.48.

On December 13, 1960, the Township presented a petition to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County requesting that court to appoint three viewers from the Allegheny County Board of Viewers to ascertain the costs, damages, if any, and the expenses of the aforesaid water lines and to assess the benefits of this improvement.*fn2 It is to be noted that in the case at bar,

[ 409 Pa. Page 285]

    since the water lines were constructed entirely within the public streets, there were no damages involved. The board of viewers (Board), appointed by the court, viewed and examined the area wherein the water lines were constructed and the properties abutting thereon. The Board then prepared a schedule (report) of assessments placing the entire cost of the improvement upon the abutting property owners. This schedule set forth that there were no damages apart from special benefits, that the total cost of the improvement was $41,841.27 and imposed the entire cost upon the abutting property owners charging nothing against the Township. Notice of said schedule and the time and place of its exhibition was served upon all the affected property owners. Ten of the forty assessed property owners filed exceptions to the schedule or report. The Board held a hearing on these exceptions: the record before us is silent as to what transpired at this hearing and we have before us only the briefs of counsel for the respective parties which purport to set forth what took place at this hearing.*fn3 After this hearing, the Board

[ 409 Pa. Page 286]

    filed a new report which simply set forth that there were no damages apart from special benefits, that the total costs of the improvements was $41,841.27 and levied assessments totaling $30,595.50 against the specified property owners in certain specified amounts charging the Township with the difference between the total amount of costs and expenses of said improvement and the total amount of such benefits, to wit, $11,245.77. This report as it appears in the instant record contains no findings of fact on the part of the Board nor any explanation concerning the imposition of costs amounting to $11,245.77 upon the Township.

Exceptions were filed by the Township to the report of the Board alleging errors in procedure in that the Board's report was not supported by findings of fact but only based upon a desire to reduce the charges against the property owners. These exceptions were argued before the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and on January 9, 1962 an order was made by that court dismissing the Township's ...


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