Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, No. 1716 of 1964, in equity, in case of The County of Chester v. The Philadelphia Electric Company and Henkels & McCoy, Inc.
Theodore O. Rogers, Solicitor, with him Rogers & O'Neill, for appellant.
Harold E. Kohn, with him William T. Coleman, Jr., Bruce W. Kauffman, Vincent P. McDevitt, Joseph F. Harvey, and Dilworth, Paxson, Kalish, Kohn & Dilks, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs on the ground that the area of regulation of public utilities is occupied by state legislation and the particular local regulation here involved thereby superseded and precluded.
On December 19, 1963, the County Commissioners of the County of Chester enacted an ordinance which prohibited any person or corporation from constructing pipelines in the county without first submitting "to the Planning Commission of Chester County plans and specifications therefor, showing in detail the route
of such line, the public improvements and property owners whose lands the same shall cross, the methods of construction, the proposed use of said line including the pressures at which products will be transmitted, the proposed methods of restoration of land surface, and such other information relating to the project as the said Planning Commission shall deem relevant."
The Philadelphia Electric Company, believing this ordinance to be an improper exercise of governmental power, refused to be bound by its provisions and began construction in November, 1964, of a pipeline which would carry natural gas from one of its existing lines in Chester County to a residential development in another part of the county, without first filing plans as dictated by the ordinance.
The county authorities instituted an action in equity to enjoin the company from pursuing its construction job. The Philadelphia Company filed preliminary objections, averring that the court had no jurisdiction, that the propriety of its pipeline construction was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Public Utility Commission, that the county, in enacting the ordinance in question, violated both the Federal and State Constitutions, and that the county, if it had any remedy, was required to seek it in law and not in equity.
The Court of Common Pleas of Chester County sustained the preliminary objections on the basis that the county lacked constitutional power to enact the ordinance and that, therefore, it was unnecessary to consider the other matters raised by the company. The county appealed.
The authority which the county would wield in driving the defendant into compliance with its ordinance is a whip with a handle but no thong. The county, as a subdivision of the State, enjoys no sovereign ...