Original jurisdiction in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in case of Richard A. Tilghman v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Harristown Development Corporation; Milton J. Shapp, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Ronald G. Lench, Secretary of the Department of General Services of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and Grace M. Sloan, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Thomas L. Wenger, with him Stephen C. MacNett, for plaintiff.
Francis B. Haas, Jr., with him McNees, Wallace & Nurick; Joseph B. Sturgis ; and Saul, Ewing, Remick & Saul, for defendant, Harristown.
Theodore, A. Adler, Deputy Attorney General, with him Vincent X. Yakowicz, Solicitor General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for defendants, Shapp, Lench, Sloan and Commonwealth.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Judge Kramer did not participate. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Mencer dissents.
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 486]
On March 3, 1976, State Senator Richard H. Tilghman filed a complaint in equity within this Court's original jurisdiction*fn1 against the Harristown Development Corporation (HDC), Milton J. Shapp, Governor, Ronald G. Lench, Secretary of the Department of General Services, Grace M. Sloan, State Treasurer, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania*fn2 (defendants) which requested this Court to enjoin defendants from "implementing, enforcing or in any other way giving effect" to three agreements entered into on October 14, 1975 by the HDC and the Commonwealth: to wit, a lease for "State Office Building No. 1," a lease for "State Office Building, No. 2," and an "Agreement with respect to Parking Facilities" (agreements).
The HDC, Governor Shapp and Secretary Lench filed answers to the complaint, raised the affirmative defense of laches and moved for summary judgment on the pleadings. Treasurer Sloan and the Commonwealth each filed preliminary objections to the complaint. The matter was then directed to be argued
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 487]
before this Court on the affirmative defenses and objections.
Laches, of course, may be raised in the pleadings by preliminary objections, answer or reply, or by the court on its own motion, Martin v. Adams County Area Vocational Technical School Authority, 11 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 292, 313 A.2d 785 (1973), and we believe that the plaintiff's action here is barred by laches as to all five defendants.
The essential facts in this case are that the HDC and the Commonwealth entered into an "Agreement of Understanding" on October 29, 1974, which provided that the Commonwealth would lease office space from the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg in two buildings within the boundaries of the urban renewal project commonly known as "Harristown."*fn3 Approximately one year later, on October 14, 1975, the HDC and the Commonwealth entered into the aforementioned leases. It was not until March 3, 1976, however, that the plaintiff initiated this action.
We believe that it is proper here to take judicial notice of the numerous newspaper articles and news broadcasts which have publicized the "Harristown" project, the Commonwealth's role in the project and the agreements of October 29, 1974 and October 14, 1975. We also take judicial notice of the fact that the plaintiff has been a State Senator since 1969, that he is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, ...