Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of In Re: Petition of the Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh for Approval of the Private Sale of Real Estate in the 22nd Ward of the City of Pittsburgh to Divine Providence Hospital of Pittsburgh, No. GD 76-15047.
Michael J. Boyle, with him Kevin C. Hansen, and Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, for appellant.
David H. Dille, Assistant Solicitor, with him Robert J. Stefanko, Solicitor, for appellee.
William J. Chapas, with him Baskin & Sears, for intervenor.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Blatt and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge DiSalle.
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 469]
We have before us an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, dated October 3, 1978, which disapproved the sale by the School District of the City of Pittsburgh (School District) of certain unused and unnecessary land, known as the Mary Jane Cowley School Property, to the Divine Providence Hospital of Pittsburgh (Divine Providence).
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 470]
Previously, on appeal of Divine Providence, we vacated an earlier order of the lower court which had directed the School District to convey this real estate to the Greek Orthodox Community Holy Trinity Church (Church). In so doing, we held that the court exceeded its power and abused its discretion by conducting a public sale of the property. Moreover, due to the inadequacy of the record in that prior proceeding, we were compelled to remand the case for further hearings and disposition. Petition of the Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh, 31 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 431, 376 A.2d 1009 (1977). After an unsuccessful attempt to have all the parties reach an amicable settlement of the controversy, the lower court conducted several hearings and then rendered the order from which the instant appeal is taken.
The salient facts for purposes of this appeal follow. On December 23, 1975, the Board of Public Education of the School District approved a proposed Land Purchase Option Agreement in which the School District agreed to sell the Cowley School Property to Divine Providence for the sum of $36,000.00. The agreement was formally executed on January 12, 1976. Within the stated period, Divine Providence exercised its option to purchase the real estate. Thereafter, on July 9, 1976, the School District petitioned the court below for approval of this sale pursuant to Section 707 of the Public School Code of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 7-707.*fn1 Between July 12,
[ 44 Pa. Commw. Page 4711976]
, and the date of the original hearing on the petition, the School District refused to consider any other offers for the property, including one made by the Church. At the first hearing, during the settlement discussions, and at the more recent hearings, the Church has continually demonstrated its willingness to purchase this tract of land for more than $36,000.00. In fact, the Church has given assurances to the lower court that it would be ready to buy the property for $41,400.00.
The court below, in disapproving the proposed sale, seemed particularly concerned with whether the School District was receiving an amount which was in accordance with the value of the property. However, a proper exercise of discretion may require approval of a private sale, despite a higher ...