Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in case of In Re: Appeals of Marple Newtown School District from the Decision of the Board of Assessment Appeals of Delaware County relating to the May 1975 Interim Tax Assessment, 1976 Annual Tax Assessment and 1977 Annual Tax Assessment on Premises known as Dunwoody Home, Inc., Newtown Square, Delaware County, Pennsylvania -- Folio No. 2856, Nos. 75-13178, 75-18060 and 76-15731.
Vram Nedurian, Jr., for petitioner.
Edward J. Carney, Jr., for respondent.
William Fearen, with him Michael I. Levin, and Cleckner & Fearen, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, DiSalle, Craig and MacPhail. Judges Rogers and Blatt did not participate. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr. President Judge Bowman and Judge Mencer dissent.
The Common Pleas Court of Delaware County held Dunwoody Village, medical center and adjoining property tax exempt.*fn1 The taxing authority, Marple Newtown School District, appeals. We affirm.
The Dunwoody Home (Home) was established in 1924 as a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, devoted to the care of the elderly. Historically, the Home and approximately 20 acres actually used in connection therewith have been tax exempt, the remainder of its property was taxed nominally, this portion now being the subject of this contest.
In 1975 the Dunwoody Home completed construction of a 65-acre retirement community known as Dunwoody Village (Village) on a property owned by and adjacent to the Home.
The issue in dispute is whether Dunwoody Village, which includes a medical center and surrounding property,
is a purely public charity and thus entitled to the tax exemption applied to the Home.*fn2 As in the usual case of this type, a close scrutiny of the nature of the operation determines the tax status. We, therefore, consider the following facts.
Dunwoody Village is composed of a community building, 196 apartments, 35 country houses, and a medical center. The community building has a lobby, meeting rooms, auditorium, lounge, kitchen, dining room, barber shop, beauty salon and craft shop. Apartments range from studios to two bedrooms. Country houses are one and two bedrooms. There are connecting passageways between the community building and the residences. The Village is serviced by all modern conveniences and carpeted throughout. Each occupant furnishes his own unit.
The Village restricts applicants to financially secure persons over the age of 65 who are physically capable of "independent living." Acceptance is within the sole discretion of the Village management. Low income persons generally will not be admitted.
An "entry fee" is charged upon admission, varying in amount depending on the size and style of the apartment or house. In 1975 they ranged from $18,000 for a studio to $53,500 for a two-bedroom country house. Entry fees approximated 70% of the cost of construction.
In addition, there is a monthly care and service fee which reflects the size and style of the dwelling as well as the number of persons residing in the unit. In 1975, monthly ...