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EAST CALN TOWNSHIP v. CARTER (10/09/70)

decided: October 9, 1970.

EAST CALN TOWNSHIP
v.
CARTER, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, No. 1843 of 1966, in case of East Caln Township v. Clayton Carter, Jr. et ux.

COUNSEL

Arthur F. Earley, for appellant.

Glenvar E. Harman, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Jones and Mr. Justice Cohen concur in the result. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Bell

[ 440 Pa. Page 608]

In January and February of 1966, appellant Clayton Carter, Jr., and his wife purchased two adjacent tracts of land situated partially in Uwchlan Township and partially in East Caln Township. Parts of these tracts had been maintained as a trailer park by one of appellant's predecessors in title. Upon taking possession of the land, appellant began to improve it, intending to expand and develop this mobile home or trailer camp.

Attempts to persuade appellant to comply with zoning and other ordinances failed. In June 1966, East Caln Township, together with several individual plaintiffs, filed a bill in Equity which alleged that the appellant and his wife were establishing and maintaining a mobile home or trailer park in violation of the Zoning Ordinance of East Caln Township. Several hearings and preliminary injunctions followed. At one time, Carter was fined $500 for contempt of Court for moving additional trailers onto the land in violation of a preliminary injunction. After additional hearings, findings of fact and conclusions of law were made and a

[ 440 Pa. Page 609]

Decree nisi was entered on April 8, 1968. The Court subsequently dismissed appellant's exceptions and on August 2, 1968, entered a final Decree.

The Decree provided, in pertinent part: ". . . Clayton Carter, Jr., and Loretta Carter, his wife, . . . are hereby restrained and enjoined from operating a trailer park upon their land or any part thereof situate in East Caln Township in this county, . . . and they are ordered and directed to forthwith remove any and all house trailers now used as places of human habitation from said tract, as well as all such trailers which are designed for or intended for such use,*fn1 and they are further ordered and directed to desist from the use of any pipes, wells, pumps, cesspools, septic tanks and any other facilities devoted to or designed for use as part of any sewage disposal system or water supply facility now located upon said tract. . . ."

On August 23, 1968, appellee filed in the lower Court a petition for contempt of Court and a petition for enforcement of the Court's Final Decree. In the meantime, appellants filed an appeal in this Court which we non prossed on January 23, 1969. On May 1, 1969, a hearing was held by the lower Court on the petitions for contempt of Court and for enforcement of the Final Decree. At this hearing, appellee presented testimony to prove that appellants had not removed the house trailers and mobile homes from their land as mandated by the Decree, but were continuing to operate the trailer park as before. Appellants presented evidence to show that they were installing sewage facilities to comply with the various public health ordinances involved, and testified that they had not pressed their appeal in this Court because they thought that the improvements which they made would satisfy all the terms and requirements of the Decree. Appellants further testified

[ 440 Pa. Page 610]

    that they had only become aware within the past week that any zoning matter was involved or included in the Decree.

On May 2, 1969, the lower Court entered an Order holding the appellant-husband in contempt of Court. The Court further provided (1) that appellant might purge himself of the contempt by removing all of the house trailers from the part of the trailer park situated in East Caln Township by June 1, 1969, and (2) that if the appellant refused to remove the trailers the following penalties would be imposed: $100 per day for the first week after June 1; $200 per day for the second week thereafter; and $300 per day for each subsequent day. The Court's lengthy Order further provided that if appellant failed to pay any of the penalties so assessed, he should be committed to the Chester County Farms until the penalties were paid or until he was otherwise discharged, with the further proviso that no single period of imprisonment should exceed three months in duration, but that if violations of the Decree continued ...


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