Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in cases of Radnor Township School District, Radnor Township, Delaware County and Delaware County Institutional District v. Robert K. Betty and Marion Betty, his wife, No. 75-1138; and Radnor Township School District, Radnor Township, Delaware County and Delaware County Institutional District v. Roland Massimino and Mary Jane Massimino, his wife, No. 75-3342.
Thomas Q. Ciccone, Jr., with him Edgar N. Persons, III, for appellants.
Reese A. Davis, with him Eugene H. Evans, Francis P. Connors and Greenwell, Porter, Smaltz & Royal, for appellees.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. Concurring Opinion by President Judge Bowman. Judge Kramer joins in this concurring opinion.
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The court of common pleas granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings made by the Radnor Township
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School District, the Township of Radnor, Delaware County, and the Delaware County Institutional District (Appellees) against Robert and Marion Betty and Roland and Mary Jane Massimino (Appellants). In effect, it ordered Appellants to make certain payments in lieu of taxes to Appellees. These payments are required under the provisions of The Administrative Code of 1929, Act of April 9, 1929, P.L. 177, as amended, 71 P.S. § 512(c) and (d) (Act), which require that lessors of real property acquired by the Commonwealth for state highways make payments to the political subdivision in which that property is situated equal to the taxes which would normally be assessed against that property were it not owned by the Commonwealth.
Appellants argue that the Act is an unconstitutional denial of equal protection, a violation of Article VIII, Section 1, of the Pennsylvania Constitution requiring uniformity of taxation, and unenforceable without the promulgation of further regulations by the Secretary of Transportation.
Appellants contend that they are denied equal protection of the laws guaranteed them by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution because they, as Commonwealth lessees, are required to make payments to local taxing authorities whereas lessees of private landlords are not. A statute is presumed to be constitutional*fn1 and one seeking to establish the unconstitutionality of a statute bears a very heavy burden*fn2 because legislation will not be declared unconstitutional "unless it clearly, palpably and plainly violated the Constitution." Commonwealth v. Life Assurance Co. of Pennsylvania, 419 Pa. 370, 376-77,
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A.2d 209, 214 (1965). Appellants have fallen ...