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COMMONWEALTH v. CITY JEANNETTE (05/22/73)

decided: May 22, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CITY OF JEANNETTE



Original jurisdiction in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Environmental Pollution Strike Force, v. City of Jeannette.

COUNSEL

Dennis J. Harnish, Special Assistant Attorney General, for plaintiff.

George A. Conti, Jr., City Solicitor, for defendant.

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

Author: Bowman

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 307]

Before us at this time are preliminary objections by defendant, City of Jeannette, to the Commonwealth's complaint in equity brought under the provisions of Sections 601 and 610 of The Clean Streams Act of June 22, 1937, P.L. 1987, as amended, 35 P.S. ยงยง 691.601, 691.610.

On June 24, 1971, the Department of Environmental Resources (DER) issued an order directed to the City of Jeannette requiring it to submit on or before September 23, 1971, a report or schedule for the upgrading of its sewage treatment facility to meet higher quality standards for sewage effluent as established by departmental regulations then in force; the report or schedule was to be submitted in the form and manner required by departmental regulations. Within the body of the order it is stated: "In developing your program for compliance with this Notice your actions must be consistent [sic] with recommendation of appropriate planning agencies, applicable Official Plans submitted pursuant to the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act and requirements or recommendations of the Department

[ 9 Pa. Commw. Page 308]

    and the Federal Government regarding area-wide planning and joint or combined sewerage facilities."

No appeal by the City was taken from this order nor has it complied with the order. DER then filed the instant complaint in equity seeking an Order of this Court directing the City to comply with a proposed schedule of performance for the plan, design, financing and construction of an adequate joint sewage facility with Hempfield Township. Among the averments of the complaint are those which assert (Paragraph 8) DER ". . . has determined that the City of Jeannette must enter into a comprehensive watershed sewerage plan with Hempfield Township," and (Paragraph 9) that contemporaneous with these proceedings ". . . administrative orders are being issued and/or proceedings are being instituted to compel Hempfield Township to take action consistent with the relief requested herein."

To the DER complaint the City has filed preliminary objections in the nature of a motion for more specificity and in the nature of a demurrer asserting that a court of equity is without jurisdiction over the cause of action asserted or to grant the relief prayed for in requiring joint action on the part of the City with another local government.

The alleged insufficiency of the material facts upon which the Commonwealth bases its cause of action (Pa. R.C.P. No. 1019) is more apparent than real. Generally speaking, a pleading should be sufficiently specific so as to enable defendant to prepare his defense. Cattarius v. Horn, 77 Dauph. 8 (1961). An averment that the City is discharging into the waters of the Commonwealth insufficiently treated sewage effluent, standing alone, would not meet the test of ...


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