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HILLTOWN TOWNSHIP v. MAGER ET UX. (07/28/72)

decided: July 28, 1972.

HILLTOWN TOWNSHIP
v.
MAGER ET UX.



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, in cases of Township of Hilltown v. Charles J. Mager and Hazel D. Mager, his wife, Nos. 3202 and 3203, May Term, 1970, and 868 Sept. Term, 1968, in Equity. Appeals transferred from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, December 22, 1971.

COUNSEL

Charles J. Mager, for himself.

Victor S. Jaczun, with him Smith and Wilson, Davis A. Franklin and Townsend, Elliott & Munson, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. President Judge Bowman did not participate. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 92]

We are here concerned with three orders of the lower court which held appellants in contempt of court and granted injunctive relief to Hilltown Township (Township) upon finding that appellants had violated the Township building and zoning ordinances. The appeal docketed to 65 Transfer Docket 1971 was originally filed in the Supreme Court but was transferred to this Court along with the appeals docketed to 66 Transfer Docket 1971 pursuant to Section 507(b) of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970, Act of July 31, 1970, P.L. , No. 223, 17 P.S. § 211.507. The appeals docketed to 66 Transfer Docket 1971 should have been filed in this Court originally. See Sections 402(4) and 503 of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970, 17 P.S. § 211.402(4) and 17 P.S. § 211.503.

65 T.D. 1971

Contempt Proceeding

On October 10, 1968, the lower court, after hearing, preliminarily enjoined appellants from continuing to construct or using a one-story concrete block building on a tract of land owned by them until building and zoning permits had been obtained. This order was not appealed. Subsequent to this order, the Township issued a building permit to appellants to complete the building and bring it into compliance with the Township's

[ 6 Pa. Commw. Page 93]

    building ordinance. The building permit carried an added typewritten notation that it was not a zoning permit. On October 16, 1969, Hilltown Township petitioned and obtained a rule to show cause why appellants should not be held in contempt of court for disobeying the court's order of October 10, 1968. After a hearing on April 13, 1970, at which defendants neither appeared nor were represented by counsel, defendants were adjudged in contempt of court. The lower court entered an order holding appellants in contempt, and further, ordered that "[appellants] . . . shall purge themselves of the aforesaid contempt not later than Monday, June 1, 1970," and "on or before the said First day of June, 1970, [appellants shall] vacate or cause to be vacated the [one-story concrete block] building and thereafter not use or permit the said building to be used for any purpose whatsoever until final hearing in this case or, until a valid zoning permit be issued for such use by the proper authorities of the Township of Hilltown." In addition, the lower court set a date for the final hearing on the complaint and ordered the appellants to "grant free and unmolested access to the building which is the subject of this proceeding . . . over and across the lands of said defendants during daylight hours on June 1 [through] June 5, 1970, by the zoning officer of the Township of Hilltown and the chief of police of the said township for the purpose of inspection of the said building to determine whether or not the said defendants are in compliance with this order and the order of the court entered October 10, 1968."

We have reviewed the record and contempt order of the lower court and, with one modification, find it in accordance with law and, accordingly, affirm. We find that the lower court's order entered October 10, 1968, was both sufficiently specific and definite ...


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