Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of In Re: Appeal of Florence Pfirrmann from the Order of the Bucks County Board of Assistance Appeals, No. 79-8437-13-6.
Richard P. McBride, with him William H. Fuss, Power, Bowen & Valimont, for appellant.
Martin J. King, for appellees.
Sondra K. Slade, Pitt, Agulnick, Supplee, Johnson & Slade, for Amicus Curiae Courtney F. Foos, Jr. and Constance C. Foos.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judges Rogers.
[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 408]
Florence H. Pfirrmann, the owner of a parcel of land in Warwick Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, seeks review of an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County upholding a determination by the Board of Assessment Appeals that she breached a covenant of an agreement entered into between the county and her predecessor in title made pursuant to the Act of January 13, 1966, P.L. (1965) 1292, as amended, 16 P.S. § 11941 et seq. (Act 515).
Act 515 was enacted in the interest of preserving the farms, forests, water supplies, and open spaces of the Commonwealth by authorizing counties to assess at lower value lands which are presently undeveloped
[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 409]
and which the owner covenants, for an initial ten year period, to preserve in their undeveloped state. Section 6 of the Act, 16 P.S. § 11946, entitled "Breach of covenant by landowner" provides in part as follows:
If the landowner, his successors, or assigns, while the covenant is in effect, alters the use of the land to any use other than that designated in the covenant, such alteration shall constitute a breach of the covenant and the landowner at the time of said breach, shall pay to the county, as liquidated damages, the difference between the real property taxes paid and the taxes which would have been payable absent the covenant, plus compound interest at the rate of five per cent per year from the date of entering the covenant to the date of its breach or from a date five years prior to the date of its breach whichever period is shorter.
It is undisputed that, on August 25, 1972, Appellant's predecessor in title covenanted with the county to preserve the 161 acre tract now owned by the appellant for use as farm land and open space land and that at some time thereafter appellant caused or permitted to be erected a single family detached dwelling in a wooded section of the tract outside the curtilage of any existing structure for the use of her son and his ...