Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in case of In Re: Condemnation of Tract of Land Consisting of Certain Individually Owned Tracts of Land Lying Along Jordan Creek, East of Wehr Dam's Bridge, South Whitehall Township, Route 1, Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, By the Township of South Whitehall for the Purposes of Public Park, Recreation Area and Facilities -- Re: Tracts 5, 6 and 7, No. 97 April Term, 1974.
James B. Martin, with him William C. Wickkiser, Michael J. Piosa, and Wallace C. Worth, Jr., for appellants.
James A. Bartholomew, with him Richard W. Shaffer, and Butz, Hudders & Tallman, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Wilkinson, Jr., sitting as a panel of two. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 163]
This is an appeal by Nicholas and Helen S. Pidstawski, Charles F. and Joan E. Hoffman and LeRoy and Carrie A. Breininger (Condemnees) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas dismissing their preliminary objections to a Declaration of Taking filed by the Township of South Whitehall (Township). The
[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 164]
sole issue is whether Condemnees' properties were taken for a public purpose.
In January, 1974, Township, pursuant to the authority vested in it by Sections 1901 and 3001 of The First Class Township Code, Act of June 24, 1931, P.L. 1206, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 56901, 58001, filed a declaration of taking under which it condemned approximately 80 acres of land along the Jordan Creek for what was to be known as the Jordan Creek Parkway Project. The condemned land included 15.120 acres owned by the Hoffmans, 15.890 acres owned by the Pidstawskis, and 17.836 acres owned by the Breiningers. These Condemnees timely filed preliminary objections alleging, inter alia,*fn1 that the declaration did not adequately demonstrate the purpose of and need for the taking. The court below sustained the objection, but allowed the Township time to file a more specific declaration and develop a record in an effort to establish a public use. The Township filed an amended declaration in which it summarized the purpose of the condemnation as follows:
(a) To acquire land for the establishment of the Township's first community recreation area to serve the present and future recreational needs of the Township community, as indicated in a Township recreation survey conducted on August 16, 1971, and in the comprehensive plan for the Township, dated September, 1969.
(b) To acquire land for the location of a park area for needed Township recreational facilities, which include a swimming pool, baseball
[ 33 Pa. Commw. Page 165]
field, handball courts, tennis courts, football field, nature trails, ...