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GREATER GREENSBURG SEWAGE AUTHORITY v. HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP (05/26/72)

decided: May 26, 1972.

GREATER GREENSBURG SEWAGE AUTHORITY, ET AL.
v.
HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, ET AL.



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in case of Greater Greensburg Sewage Authority, James T. Garner and Wayne H. Hillas v. Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Albert J. Marazza, C. Homer Miller, Clarence Bricker, Russell Appleby, Donald Gramlich, Supervisors of Hempfield Township, and Alex Miller, Ordinance Enforcement Officer of Hempfield Township, No. 3859 In Equity.

COUNSEL

Joseph B. Mitinger, with him Mitinger & Mitinger, for appellants.

Robert M. Stefanon, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Concurring Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Mencer

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 497]

The appellant, Greater Greensburg Sewage Authority (Authority) has operated a sewage treatment plant situate in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, since 1962. The sewage treatment plant provides treatment for sewage originating in the City of Greensburg, the Borough of South Greensburg, and parts of Hempfield Township. A liquid residue termed "sludge" is produced in the operation of the sewage treatment plant. The sludge material is deposited on a farm owned by appellant, Wayne H. Hillis, located in Hempfield Township.

On December 17, 1969, the Board of Supervisors of Hempfield Township enacted an ordinance numbered 69-11, which was designated as a Solid Waste Management Ordinance. This ordinance requires that a license be obtained from the Township Supervisors for the depositing of solid waste resulting from "industrial, commercial, agricultural and residential activities." The Authority, under protest, applied for a license to deposit sludge material under the ordinance but the application was denied by the Township Supervisors. Wayne H. Hillis also applied for a license and was granted one which was subsequently rescinded.

The Authority and Wayne H. Hillis brought an action in mandamus to compel the issuance of a license to deposit "sludge" on the Hillis farm. They also filed a complaint in equity seeking injunctive relief from the

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 498]

    threats of criminal prosecution made by the Township Supervisors for failure to obtain a license and seeking to enjoin the Supervisors from interfering with the activity of the Authority conducted on the farm of Wayne H. Hillis. In addition, the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County was asked to declare Hempfield Township Ordinance No. 69-11 unconstitutional.

After hearing, the court below entered a decree nisi denying the relief sought and finding Ordinance No. 69-11 valid and constitutional. Exceptions were filed to the decree nisi and the court below en banc dismissed the exceptions, affirmed the decree nisi as a final decree and directed judgment to be entered on the decision of the trial judge. The Authority and Hillis appealed to this Court and we reverse.

The court below denied the relief sought by the Authority upon the following reasoning:

"Township Ordinance No. 69-11 was enacted in conformity with the Authority and requirements set forth in Section 10 of the Pennsylvania ...


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