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TRI CITY BROADCASTING COMPANY v. HOWELL (04/16/68)

decided: April 16, 1968.

TRI CITY BROADCASTING COMPANY
v.
HOWELL, APPELLANT



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1966, No. 2009, in case of Tri City Broadcasting Company v. C. Emanuel Howell and Mae R. Howell, his wife.

COUNSEL

G. N. Evashavik, with him Parker, Evashwick & Brieger, for appellants.

Mord C. Taylor, Jr., with him Ruby, Nescott and Taylor, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen.

Author: Cohen

[ 429 Pa. Page 425]

This is an appeal from a decree of the court below perpetually enjoining and restraining appellants from interfering with or obstructing the use of a certain 20 foot Way by appellee, its agents, employees, or business invitees.

The particular land involved is a three acre tract of land purchased by appellants on September 2, 1942, and located in North Versailles Township, Allegheny County. The land abuts Foster Road and Naysmith Road with a 20 foot Way running through the land from Naysmith Road, ending at the land of appellee, a distance of 225 feet. Appellants subdivided the tract of land on three occasions with all the deeds referring to the 20 foot Way as marking the boundary of each conveyance. Appellee commenced utilizing the 20 foot Way in 1952 and continued to use it with the express oral permission of appellant, Mrs. Howell, until December of 1963. For reasons not germane to a resolution of the case, appellants then proceeded to erect a barricade across the 20 foot Way designed solely to keep appellee or anyone connected with appellee from using the Way. Appellee, in an effort to gain access to the Way, instituted an action in equity to enjoin appellants from erecting any barrier on the theory that the land was dedicated as a public way. The court below granted the injunction and this appeal followed.

We are required to determine whether the Township of North Versailles by promulgating an ordinance and acting thereunder to construct a sewer system for

[ 429 Pa. Page 426]

    the benefit of the adjacent property owners accepted appellants' offer of dedication, making the 20 foot Way a public roadway.

At the outset it must be noted that streets or highways may be created by an express or implied dedication of land. Milford Borough v. Burnett, 288 Pa. 434, 136 Atl. 669 (1927). An implied dedication will arise when the grantor designates a street as a boundary in a conveyance of land. Agardy v. Pleasant Hills Borough, 394 Pa. 350, 147 A.2d 366 (1959); Cheltenham & Abington Sewerage Company v. P.S.C., 107 Pa. Superior Ct. 225, 162 Atl. 469 (1932), and Holmes v. Longwill, 89 Pa. Superior Ct. 1 (1926). Here no dispute exists as to whether appellants impliedly offered to dedicate the land in question, since appellants readily admit in their brief that the 20 foot Way was designated as a boundary in each of the three conveyances, thus creating the dedication.

However, like any contractual offer, it must be accepted by the municipality for the purpose offered in order to constitute a complete dedication. Coffin v. Old Orchard Development Corporation, 408 Pa. 487, 186 A.2d 906 (1962); Appeal of Leech, 371 Pa. 84, 89 A.2d 351 (1952); Milford Borough v. Burnett, supra and Wynn Appeal, 188 Pa. Superior Ct. 499, 149 A.2d 149 (1959). Acceptance of an offer of dedication may be express or implied and may be by conduct as well as by ordinance or formal act. To demonstrate an implied acceptance there must be unequivocal authoritative acts of the municipality evidencing its intention to accept. McQuillin, Municipal Corporations, 3d Ed., Vol. 11, ยง 33.47 (1964); Milford Borough v. Burnett, supra.

The lower court, apparently applying these general principles, concluded that the Township of North Versailles accepted ...


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