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MATTER COLUMBIA BOROUGH. EXCEPTANTS (03/31/76)

decided: March 31, 1976.

IN THE MATTER OF COLUMBIA BOROUGH. EXCEPTANTS, KENNETH F. HARTMAN, BERNEDA E. SWINGLER AND HILDA E. SPIESE, APPELLANTS


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County in case of In the Matter of Columbia Borough, No. 25 of 1973, Page 204.

COUNSEL

William H. Naugle, for appellants.

Richard P. Nuffort, with him Geisenberger, Zimmerman, Pfannebecker & Gibbel, for appellee.

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

Author: Blatt

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 191]

This is an appeal by three registered voters of the Borough of Columbia from a final order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County approving both the abolition of the nine wards in the Borough and the reduction from nine to seven in the number of individuals to be elected to serve on the Borough Council. The Borough had petitioned the court to take such action pursuant to Section 601 of The Borough Code, Act of February 1, 1966, P.L. (1965) 1656, as amended, 53 P.S. ยง 45601. Having carefully considered the arguments of the appellants,

[ 24 Pa. Commw. Page 192]

    we believe that the issues raised were thoroughly and properly resolved by the court below in the opinion of President Judge Johnstone which we adopt here.

"OPINION

"Johnstone, P.J.

"The Council of the Borough of Columbia filed its petition requesting the Court to eliminate all wards; to reduce the number of councilmen in the Borough from 9 to 7; and to provide that all councilmen shall be elected at large. This petition was approved nisi on January 23, 1973, with leave to file exceptions within 30 days or the petition would be confirmed absolutely. Exceptions were filed by three registered voters, and these exceptions have been argued before the Court en banc.

"After the 1970 United States census it became obvious that the nine wards in the Borough of Columbia were not equal and in order to achieve a 'one man-one vote' status it would be necessary to reapportion the nine wards in the borough. In February 1971 council passed a resolution authorizing a referendum to determine whether all wards should be eliminated, voting for councilmen at large and reducing council from nine to seven members. At the November 1971 general election, 940 votes or 41% were cast in favor of eliminating all wards, voting at large, and reducing council from 9 to 7 members, and 1349 votes or 58.9% were cast in opposition to eliminating all wards, voting at large, and reducing council from 9 to 7 members.

"In March 1972 council employed C. G. Hagee Associates to make a redistricting study and furnish council with information necessary to realign the wards in the borough. In October 1972 C. G. Hagee Associates presented to borough council a report of three proposed alternate plans for realigning the nine ...


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