Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County in case of In Re: Taking in Eminent Domain of certain parcels of real estate located in the Northside Urban Renewal, Area #1, Project Penna. R-389 in the City of Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, No. 24A and No. 24B May Term, 1974.
Anthony R. Thompson, for appellants.
Michael E. Riskin, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 22 Pa. Commw. Page 488]
We consolidated for argument and decision the appeals of Carl E. Moyer and Irene M. Moyer, his wife, and of William H. Price from orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County dismissing the appellant's preliminary objections to Declarations of the Taking of their real estate by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem.
In the spring of 1968 the City Council of Bethlehem determined to embark on an investigation of ways and means to improve the physical condition of the central city area. Council marshalled the resources of the City Planning Commission and its Redevelopment Authority to this end; it also approved the employment of outside consulting engineers to prepare a report on the feasibility of redeveloping parts of the City and formed a citizens group, called the Central Business Advisory Board in order to enlist practical advice and support. The staff of the Planning Commission made property by property examinations of the areas believed to be the proper subjects of development; the consulting engineers
[ 22 Pa. Commw. Page 489]
made a general report and recommendations; and the Redevelopment Authority, with the help of the Advisory Board, implemented the findings and recommendations of Council and the Planning Commission. The total area eventually chosen for redevelopment was divided into a so-called Central Business District, funded by State and Local resources, and the Northside Urban Renewal Area, funded by Federal loans and grants exceeding $5,000,000. The appellant's properties were located in the Northside Urban Renewal Area.
The City of Bethlehem proceeded in all respects conformably with the Urban Redevelopment Law, Act of May 24, 1945, P.L. 991, as amended, 35 P.S. § 1701 et seq. Its Redevelopment Authority was formed pursuant to Section 4, 35 P.S. § 1704. The Authority received from the Planning Commission a designation of areas in need of redevelopment which it duly studied and approved. Section 9, 35 P.S. § 1709. The City Planning Commission certified that the Northside Urban Renewal Area was blighted. The Authority by resolution authorized the condemnation of the appellants' properties and filed Declarations of Taking conforming to the requirements of the Eminent Domain Code, Act of June 22, 1964, Special Sess., P.L. 84, as amended, 26 P.S. § 1-101 et seq.
The appellants' preliminary objections which are still pressed are (1) that the taking of their property was for a private, not public, purpose, (2) that the Planning Commission's certification of blight was made capriciously and arbitrarily, (3) that the bond did not provide sufficient security, and (4) that the Authority violated Federal laws and regulations in its undertakings.
The lower court dismissed the preliminary objection based on alleged violation of Federal law as not being "cognizable by this Court since the allegations raised matters having no relevancy to the power of eminent domain as conferred by the Pennsylvania Statute." The court conducted an evidentiary ...