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ESTABLISHMENT BOUNDARY BETWEEN COLLIER TOWNSHIP AND ROBINSON TOWNSHIP. COLLIER TOWNSHIP (06/18/76)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: June 18, 1976.

IN RE: ESTABLISHMENT OF BOUNDARY BETWEEN COLLIER TOWNSHIP AND ROBINSON TOWNSHIP. COLLIER TOWNSHIP, APPELLANT

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of In Re: Establishment of Boundary Between Collier Township and Robinson Township, No. 1 April Term, 1974 Miscellaneous.

COUNSEL

Michael B. Kaleugher, for appellant.

Ernest L. Butya, with him Joseph I. Lewis, for appellee.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Kramer did not participate. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 231]

This case concerns the continuing boundary dispute between Robinson and Collier Townships in Allegheny County.*fn1 As part of this dispute, Robinson Township sought to have a limited-access highway, known as Parkway West, established as its new southern boundary, thereby altering the boundary between it and Collier Township. Accordingly, in October of 1973 it petitioned

[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 232]

    the court, pursuant to Section 302 of The First Class Township Code (Code), Act of June 24, 1931, P.L. 1206, as amended, 53 P.S. § 55302,*fn2 for the appointment under Section 303 of the Code, 53 P.S. § 55303, of an independent commission to study the matter.

On January 8, 1974, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas appointed a commission to report on the requested boundary alteration. Collier Township filed a timely appeal to this Court contesting the appointment of the commissioners. The order of the lower court has been stayed pending this appeal. We hold that the appointment of a commission to investigate the alteration of boundaries under the Code is no longer a proper procedure.

In Middle Paxton Township v. Borough of Dauphin, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 431, 308 A.2d 208 (1973), aff'd, 458 Pa. 396, 326 A.2d 342 (1974), this Court held that Article IX, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1968 was a mandate to the legislature requiring it to adopt legislation creating uniform procedures for consolidation, merger or change of the boundaries of a municipality. Further, we held that the failure of the legislature to enact such legislation within the constitutionally mandated 2-year period ending in April 1970 would invalidate all pre-existing statutory provisions establishing procedures for boundary changes. Since the legislature has not

[ 25 Pa. Commw. Page 233]

    acted, the only constitutionally valid procedures for making boundary alterations are initiative and referendum. See also Fairview Township v. Borough of Fredonia, 11 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 251, 312 A.2d 842 (1973). Section 302 of the Code, as it relates to the alteration of township lines to suit the convenience of the inhabitants, is therefore invalid. Hence, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County appointing a commission is in error.

Robinson Township recognizes the principles expressed in the Middle Paxton Township and Fairview Township cases but urges that we consider its petition as being filed sometime before the April 1970 deadline for the enactment of uniform legislation. However, it is clear that, although the litigation in the boundary dispute as a whole has continued since 1967, the petition for alteration at issue here was not filed until 1973.

Order reversed.

Disposition

Reversed.


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