Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of Borough of Sellersville v. Steward S. Groff, No. 1261 January Term, 1971.
Randolph A. Scott, with him Smith & Wilson, for appellant.
Richard P. McBride, with him Samuel G. Moyer and Power, Bowen & Valimont, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Rogers. Judges Wilkinson and Mencer join in this Concurring and Dissenting Opinion.
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 316]
Steward S. Groff is the owner of a large two-story frame building which is located in the Borough of Sellersville (Borough). The building was erected in 1910 for use as a cigar box factory, but is currently used by Groff as a warehouse to store second-hand merchandise which is used in Groff's business. The building is located in a residential neighborhood, with the nearest structure approximately twenty feet away, and is supplied with neither electricity nor heat.
By resolution on January 11, 1971, the Borough Council of Sellersville, pursuant to Borough Ordinance No. 300, declared that Groff's building was in a "dangerous condition" and ordered that it be removed. When Groff failed to comply with this resolution, the Borough instituted an action in equity in the Court of Common
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 317]
Pleas of Bucks County, seeking to have the building declared a public nuisance and to have the nuisance abated by ordering the building's removal.
Two hearings were held, and, at the close of the second hearing on June 30, 1971, the chancellor orally ordered*fn1 the building to be razed and removed unless certain repairs and improvements were made to it within ninety days. On October 22, 1971, when the parties again appeared before the chancellor, it was conceded that the order of June 30, 1971 had not been carried out. Subsequently, by stipulation, both parties requested that the chancellor file an adjudication and decree nisi as required by Pa. R.C.P. No. 1517, and this was done by the chancellor on June 30, 1972. The decree nisi directed the demolition and removal of Groff's building within ten days of the date of entry of a final decree. Exceptions were filed, but the court en banc affirmed the decree nisi and entered a final decree to the same effect. Groff thereafter brought an appeal to this Court.
Our scope of review in equity matters is limited. The findings of fact of the chancellor will be reversed only where there has been manifest or clear error or a clear abuse of discretion. The chancellor's decision will stand if there exists sufficient evidence to justify the findings and logically sound, reasonable inferences and conclusions derived therefrom. Even a preponderance of testimony against the findings will be insufficient if there is testimony which, is believed, will warrant them. Ross v. Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, 8 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 204, 301 A.2d 405 (1973).
The essential questions before us, therefore, are (1) whether or not Groff's ...