No. 146 January Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at Nos. 1895 and 2111 C.D. 1977, entered November 17, 1978, affirming Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, Civil Action - Law, at No. 363 January Term, 1976, entered August 25, 1977.
Anthony R. Thompson, Allentown, for Holiday Inns.
James L. Weirbach, Allentown, for Laneco, Inc.
J. Jackson Eaton, III, Allentown, for Tp. of South Whitehall.
Alfred K. Hettinger, Allentown, for County of Lehigh.
Henry T. Reath, Alexis J. Anderson, Philadelphia, amicus curiae for appellants.
Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. O'Brien, C. J., and Wilkinson, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Larsen, J., filed a concurring and dissenting opinion.
Like its companion Keebler Co. v. Philadelphia Board of Revision of Taxes, 496 Pa. 140, 436 A.2d 583 (1981), this matter involves the assessment of real property. For the reasons which follow, the orders of both the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County and the Commonwealth Court are vacated and the record remanded to the court of common pleas.
In 1972, the County of Lehigh entered into an agreement with the appraisal firm of Cole-Layer-Trumble (CLT) for the establishment of fair market values of properties within the County. CLT completed the project in 1974. Lehigh County then assessed the properties at 50% of the CLT appraisals, effective as of the 1975 tax year.
Included among the properties assessed were those of taxpayers, appellants Holiday Inns, Inc., and Laneco, Inc. Taxpayer Holiday Inn, owner of a 294-unit motel complex and 25 acres of land, had its property assessed at $1,099,170. Taxpayer Laneco, which owns a retail establishment and 12.5 acres of land, had its property assessed at $574,550.
Appellee South Whitehall Township, in which the properties of taxpayers are located, believed that County officials had underassessed several commercial properties within its taxing district, including those of taxpayers. South Whitehall filed appeals with the Lehigh County Board of Assessment Appeals, seeking to increase the assessments. The County Board increased Holiday Inn's assessment $12,070, to $1,111,240 and Laneco's $170,600, to $745,150. South Whitehall then sought a further increase of the commercial assessments by appealing the County Board's determinations ...