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WEST ALEXANDER BOROUGH ANNEXATION CASE (03/16/73)

decided: March 16, 1973.

WEST ALEXANDER BOROUGH ANNEXATION CASE


Appeal from order of Superior Court, April T., 1970, No. 281, affirming order of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, May T., 1967, No. 487, in re Annexation to the Borough of West Alexander of a portion of Donegal Township by the Town Council.

COUNSEL

Sanford S. Finder, with him George Anthou, for appellant.

Frank C. Carroll, with him Alexander McIlvaine, for appellees.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Nix. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Nix

[ 450 Pa. Page 454]

This proceeding arises from the refusal of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County to approve the

[ 450 Pa. Page 455]

    annexation of a portion of Donegal Township to the Borough of West Alexander.

In August 1967, appellant, Borough of West Alexander, filed a petition pursuant to the Act of July 20, 1953, P. L. 550, § 1, 53 P.S. 67501,*fn1 seeking annexation of a portion of Donegal Township, a second class township, to the Borough of West Alexander. In September 1967, the Board of Supervisors of Donegal Township filed a complaint to the said petition alleging, inter alia, that a majority of the freeholders in the territory to be annexed were opposed.*fn2 A complaint was also filed by individuals residing in the territory to be annexed alleging that a majority had not signed the Borough's petition and that the descriptions in the papers filed were not accurate enough to determine who will, or might be, affected by the proposed annexation. At the same time, individuals alleging to be a majority of freeholders in interest in Donegal Township filed a petition asking for annexation. Following a hearing on the proposed annexation, the court below found that the proceedings were legally sufficient and appointed a board of commissioners to act under the Act of July 20, 1953, P. L. 550, § 3, 53 P.S. § 67503. The commission was specifically directed to determine whether a majority of the freeholders signed the petition.*fn3

[ 450 Pa. Page 456]

After conducting hearings the commission filed its report and stated that it was "unable to arrive at an affirmative conclusion, from the voluminous and often confusing evidence we have heard and seen, that 51 per cent or more of the freeholders in the territory proposed to be annexed have signed the petition for annexation." Proponents filed exceptions to the report which were dismissed. An opportunity to amend the petition was exercised, but this attempt was also dismissed and the court below entered an opinion and order dismissing the petition for annexation. The Superior Court*fn4 affirmed the dismissal and this appeal followed.

The sole issue raised by the appellant, Borough of West Alexander, is that it was denied a full and fair hearing before the board of commissioners. Specifically, appellant alleges that it did not have an opportunity to present its rebuttal evidence since on October 25, 1968, the commission, instead of conducting a scheduled hearing ...


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