Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County in case of In the Matter of the Annexation of a Part of the Township of Wayne to the City of Corry, Pennsylvania, No. 985 of 1968.
Barney Bernard, with him Evans, Johnson, Scarpitti, Bernard, McCullough & Wittmann, for appellant.
Douglas D. Rozelle, City Solicitor, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
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This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County which approved the annexation of a portion of Wayne Township (Wayne) to the City of Corry (Corry), all in Erie County.
The pertinent facts are that on April 22, 1968, an annexation petition, signed by three-fifths of the "taxable
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 183]
inhabitants"*fn1 of a 480 acre portion of Wayne contiguous to the northern boundary of Corry, was submitted to the City Council of Corry. The area to be annexed consisted primarily of a golf course owned by the Municipal Authority of the City of Corry, two cemeteries, two light industries, and scattered residential properties, with the residue undeveloped land. Pursuant to the provisions of the Act of July 20, 1953, P.L. 550, 53 P.S. § 67501 et seq. (Act of 1953), Corry passed an ordinance on May 6, 1968, approving the annexation of the realty described in the petition, effective upon approval of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County. Within thirty days of the certification of this ordinance to the lower court, the Supervisors of Wayne filed a complaint in the court challenging, inter alia, the legality of the annexation petition, and requested the appointment of a board of commissioners (commissioners). On June 26, 1968, Judge McClelland appointed the commissioners in accordance with the Act of 1953, 53 P.S. § 67503. The commissioners conducted three hearings in the latter part of 1968 and filed a report on October 20, 1969, containing extensive findings of fact. Upon a determination that the annexation proceedings complied with the provisions of the
[ 12 Pa. Commw. Page 184]
Act of 1953 and that the annexation was in the public interest, Judge McClelland ordered the annexation approved on December 10, 1969.
Wayne appealed this decision to the Superior Court which reversed the lower court on the ground that Judge McClelland had failed to determine preliminarily the legality and propriety of the annexation. Wayne Township Appeal, 218 Pa. Superior Ct. 312, 280 A.2d 660 (1971). In remanding, the Superior Court ordered the lower court to conduct a hearing for the specific purpose of determining "whether a majority of freeholders in the area proposed to be annexed signed the petition and whether a map and proper description of the area were attached to the 'consent to land owners' at the time their signatures were secured." (218 Pa. Superior Ct. at 315, 280 A.2d at 661)
In accordance with this procedendo, Judge McClelland conducted three hearings in 1971 and 1972. Extended testimony was taken relative to the number of freeholders in the area to be annexed, the number of freeholders who signed the petition, and whether there was a map and description of the area attached to the petition when it was signed by each of the freeholders. Wayne also presented additional evidence on the question of public interest. On ...