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HERITAGE FARMS, INC. v. SOLEBURY TWP.

December 19, 1980

HERITAGE FARMS, INC., Heritage Farm Partnership, Concepts Plus, Inc., and Michael G. Lamelza
v.
SOLEBURY TOWNSHIP, Solebury Township Board of Supervisors, J. Walter Livezey, Jr., Frank J. Soriero, Jr., Frank C. Boas, Cyrus R. Hoagland and Patricia D. Knight, Individually and in their respective official capacities as members of the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors, Carl L. Lindsay, Jr., Individually and in his official capacity as Solicitor of Solebury Township, and William E. Moon



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINER

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This is an action alleging violations of plaintiffs' constitutional rights, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking damages, as well as injunctive and declaratory relief. The complaint also alleges violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution and unspecified Pennsylvania laws. Plaintiffs are the owners and developers of several multi-unit residential developments located within Solebury Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Defendants are Solebury Township (Township), the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors (Board), the members of the Board and the Township's Solicitor, named in their official and individual capacities, and a former member of the Board, named in his individual capacity.

Presently before the court is the defendants' motion to dismiss on the ground of abstention, or in the alternative, to dismiss the claims for damages against the individual defendants. For the reasons to follow, the defendants' motion to dismiss on the ground of abstention is granted.

 Plaintiffs allege that the defendants have engaged and continue to engage in a course of conduct and conspiracy intended to impede, obstruct, delay and destroy plaintiffs' current and future development projects. The alleged unlawful conduct and conspiracy of the defendants includes the following:

 
(1) continuing unlawful refusals to grant approvals of plaintiffs' development projects routinely required by law;
 
(2) imposition of unlawful conditions on plaintiffs' projects, including unlawful refusals to release escrow monies in order to bankrupt plaintiffs, unlawful refusal to accept required dedication of completed public roads, unlawful refusals to issue certificates of occupancy for Ingham Mews an otherwise completed fully approved residential development;
 
(3) unlawful opposition to plaintiffs' Logan Square commercial development orchestrated by defendant Frank C. Boas, who owns and operates a commercial store nearby that would have to compete with proposed shops in Logan Square;
 
(4) unlawful bans on issuance of building permits;
 
(5) declarations of intent by defendants to bankrupt plaintiff Michael G. LaMelza;
 
(6) efforts to dissuade financial institutions from financing plaintiffs' development projects;
 
(7) ongoing defamation and vilification of plaintiffs in order to further damage plaintiffs;
 
(8) repeated harassing inspections and reviews of plaintiffs projects.

 The complaint alleges that defendants' conduct: (1) has violated "rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States, including plaintiffs' rights to notice and opportunity for hearing and equal protection of the laws secured by the Fourteenth Amendment, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983;" (2) constitutes a "taking of plaintiffs' property without due process of law" in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) has denied plaintiffs "the equal protection of state and local laws" by denying necessary approvals and imposing oppressive and confiscatory conditions and restrictions on their business operations and project, in violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint also alleges that plaintiffs "have not and will not be able to obtain fair and impartial treatment from the Board of Supervisors ... in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

 The complaint further alleges that the defendants (1) have interfered with the plaintiffs' use and enjoyment of their property in violation of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; (2) have unlawfully and tortiously interfered with the plaintiffs' "existing relationships in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;" (3) have unlawfully defrauded and attempted to defraud the plaintiffs of their property, in violation of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and (4) have ...


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