Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1967, No. 1208, in case of Anthony Palmeri, Elizabeth A. Krahling and Murphy Cefola v. Township of Penn Hills and Centre Video Corporation.
Leonard L. Martino and Joseph J. Pass, Jr., with them Louis C. Glasso, for appellants.
Clem M. Strobel, for township, appellee.
Harry Woodruff Turner, with him Kirkpatrick, Pomeroy, Lockhart & Johnson, for corporation, appellee.
Delbert McQuaide, and Love & Wilkinson, for appellees.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Mr. Chief Justice Bell concurs in the result. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.
This is an appeal from the dismissal of a taxpayer's complaint in equity which sought to enjoin the Township of Penn Hills from executing a contract awarded to Centre Video Corporation, for the establishment and operation of a cable television antenna system in the township.
The action was dismissed in the court below after preliminary objections were filed by appellees, primarily on the basis that a court of equity lacks jurisdiction over a dispute challenging only procedural irregularities in the adoption of a municipal ordinance and that the proper forum for such a determination was the court of quarter sessions.
The Act of June 24, 1931, P. L. 1206, as amended, 53 P.S. § 56502 provides in pertinent part as follows: "Complaint as to the legality of any ordinance or resolution may be made to the court of quarter sessions . . ., within thirty days after any ordinance or resolution takes effect. . . ." We have held on several occasions that the purpose of this section "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. . . . It is much more reasonable to believe that, in proceedings under § 1502, the propriety of the method and the procedure that contributed to the ordinance's enactment are the only questions which the court of quarter sessions can consider." (Emphasis supplied.) McArthur v. Mt. Lebanon Twp., 402 Pa. 78, 80, 165 A.2d 630 (1960). Also see 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).
Here appellants principally contend that township officials in awarding a contract to one who was neither the lowest nor the most responsible bidder committed
a manifest abuse of discretion invalidating the ordinance itself. While we do not express an opinion as to the merits of this position, it is clear that appellants in this respect are not challenging any procedural irregularities, but rather the substantive validity of such ordinance. Since the court of quarter sessions does not have jurisdiction to decide substantive issues concerning the validity of an ordinance, the only court which could have assumed jurisdiction was the court of common pleas. Furthermore, if we were to affirm the lower court's dismissal, appellants would be effectively denied a forum in which ...