Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, No. 6774 of 1972, in case of Stephen Clancy et al. by Robert Buckingham and Joanne E. Buckingham, his wife v. William L. Recker and High View Mobile Park, Inc.
Samuel S. Pangburn, for appellants.
Robert Rade Stone, for appellees.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.
This action in equity seeks to enjoin the defendants from proceeding with the construction of a mobile home park on certain land in Union Township, Washington County. The plaintiffs are adjoining landowners. The complaint named William L. Recker as defendant; however, by stipulation High View Mobile Park, Inc. was added as a party-defendant prior to trial. After an extended hearing, the chancellor entered an adjudication and decree nisi in favor of the defendants. Some of the plaintiffs, including Robert C. Buckingham and his wife, Joanne, filed exceptions to the adjudication and decree nisi, but these exceptions were later dismissed by a court en banc and the decree nisi was made final. The Buckinghams then filed this appeal.
The following facts in the record, which are undisputed, disclose the background of the controversy.
On April 4, 1955, William F. Recker and Madeline Recker, his wife, became the owners in fee of a 155 acre tract of land in Union Township. Between 1956 and 1962, William F. Recker and Madeline Recker made eleven separate conveyances out of this 155 acre tract. The appellants were the grantees in one such conveyance. Each deed in these conveyances granted title to the grantees therein to a lot or lots of land subject to certain "covenants, conditions and restrictions" which were designated as "covenants running with the land." One such covenant provided "[n]ot more than one dwelling house shall be constructed on each lot as shown on the plan." Another provided that the construction plans for each dwelling house and septic tank installation were subject to the approval of the grantors prior to construction. In addition, each deed included the following restrictions dealing with trailers: "No trailer, basement, tent, shack, garage, or any outbuilding other than a dwelling house approved as herein provided erected thereon shall at any time be used as a
residence." Further, all but two of the eleven deeds contained the following prohibition: "No trailer shall be placed, or parked on the above described land for use of occupancy as a dwelling house or for any other purpose whatever."
William F. Recker died testate on April 10, 1969,*fn1 and by his last will and testament he devised the remaining portion of the 155 acre tract [approximately 148 acres] to his seven surviving children, one of whom was the defendant, William L. Recker. In February 1971, William L. Recker submitted a mobile home trailer park site plan, "Recker-Walton Mobile Home Trailer Park", to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors of Union Township for approval.*fn2 The trailer park was to be constructed on the 148 acre tract devised under the will of William F. Recker, deceased. In November 1971, the plan for construction of the park was approved by the township's Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. On May 1, 1972, the township's Zoning Board of Adjustment issued the necessary building permit. On May 30th, title to the 148 acre tract was purchased by High View Mobile Park, Inc. [High View] for $65,000. William L. Recker owns one-third of the stock in this corporation and serves as its secretary-treasurer. The instant action was instituted on June 5th.
The appellants maintain the entire 155 acre tract from which their lot was carved is bound by the "covenants, conditions and restrictions" included in their deed, particularly, the restriction against use of the ...