Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County in case of The First Presbyterian Church of York, Pennsylvania v. City Council of the City of York, No. 127 January Term, 1975.
G. Thomas Miller, with him William M. Young, Jr., Judson E. Ruch and McNees, Wallace and Nurick, for appellant.
John W. Thompson, Jr., City Solicitor, for appellee.
Lavere C. Senft, for Historic York, Inc.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Concurring Opinion by Judge Kramer. Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Mencer join in this concurring opinion.
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The First Presbyterian Church of York, Pennsylvania, has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of York County sustaining the action of the Council of the City of York refusing to certify
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the appropriateness of, and the consequent refusal by the City building inspector of a permit for, the demolition of a structure on the Church's grounds.
So far as we are aware, this is the first case occasioned by the Act of June 13, 1961, P.L. 282, as amended, 53 P.S. § 8001 et seq. Although the appellant raises no question as to that enactment's general validity, we believe that a brief description of its provisions would be helpful to an understanding of this litigation. Section 2 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 8002, provides in full: "For the purpose of protecting those historical areas within our great Commonwealth, which have a distinctive character recalling the rich architectural and historical heritage of Pennsylvania, and of making them a source of inspiration to our people by awakening interest in our historic past, and to promote the general welfare, education and culture of the communities in which these distinctive historical areas are located, all counties, cities, except cities of the first class, boroughs, incorporated towns and townships, are hereby authorized to create and define, by ordinance, a historic district or districts within the geographic limits of such political subdivisions. No such ordinance shall take effect until the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has been notified, in writing, of the ordinance and has certified, by resolution, to the historical significance of the district or districts within the limits defined in the ordinance, which resolution shall be transmitted to the executive authority of the political subdivision."
Section 3, 53 P.S. § 8003, authorizes the municipal governing body to appoint a Board of Historical Review of not less than five members, consisting of a registered architect, a licensed real estate broker, a building inspector, and the remaining members persons "with knowledge of and interest in the preservation of historic districts." The function of the Board
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is to "give counsel" to the governing body regarding the issuance of certificates. Section 4, 53 P.S. § 8004, empowers the governing body to certify to the appropriateness of the erection, reconstruction, alteration, restoration, demolition or razing of any building within the historic district or districts and prohibits the issuance of a permit for such changes until such a certificate shall have been issued. The same section requires the governing body in its determination of whether the certificate should issue to consider the effect of the proposed change on the "general historic and architectural nature of the district", and with respect to the building to consider only exterior architectural features which can be seen from the street but in this regard also to take ...