Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 13741 of 1967, in re declaration of taking of certain premises located at south side of College Avenue and west side of Coopertown Road, extending to Darby Road, by School District of Haverford Township.
Robert James Jackson, with him Kassab, Cherry, Curran & Archbold, for appellant.
George S. Saulnier, with him George H. Class, Oscar M. Hansen, and Class, Saulnier, Dunn & Abel, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien.
On November 9, 1967, the Board of School Directors of the School District of Haverford Township passed a resolution authorizing the filing of a Declaration of Taking of premises owned by appellant. The appellant filed preliminary objections to the Declaration of Taking, arguing that its property is exempt from condemnation under Section 721 of the Public School Code, and for the further reason that the appellee had failed to give proper security for the payment of just compensation.
After hearing, the lower court entered its order dismissing the preliminary objections.
The Act of March 10, 1949, P. L. 30, Art. VII, Sec. 721, known as the Public School Code of 1949, 24 P.S. 7-721, provides: "Whenever the board of school directors of any district cannot agree on the terms of its purchase with the owner or owners of any real estate that the board has selected for school purposes, such board of school directors, after having decided upon the amount and location thereof, may enter upon, take possession of, and occupy such land as it may have selected for
school purposes, whether vacant or occupied, and designate and mark the boundary lines thereof, and thereafter may use the same for school purposes according to the provisions of this Act: Provided, That no board of school directors shall take by condemnation any burial ground, or any land belonging to any incorporated institution of learning, incorporated hospital association, or unincorporated church, incorporated or unincorporated religious association, which land is actually used or held for the purpose for which such burial ground, institution of learning, hospital association, church or religious association was established." (Emphasis supplied)
Appellant contends that, when viewed in light of its totality of activity, it is a religious association, and the land here involved is used for the purpose for which appellant was established.
As evidence of its status as a religious organization, appellant emphasizes the following facts:
1. Its articles provide specifically that "Its purposes are as follows: The Corporation shall be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes. (A) The activities which the Corporation shall carry on from time to time shall be such as may be determined by the Board of Directors to promote the public welfare, whether such activities be purely religious, ...