Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in the case of John Iannarone v. Township of Springbrook and Board of Supervisors of Springbrook Township, No. 80 Equity 52.
Francis W. Roscoe, II, with him William Zacharellis, for appellant.
Carl J. Greco, Mariani and Greco, for appellees.
Judges Mencer, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.
The appellant, John Iannarone, appeals a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County which denied his petition for declaratory judgment. The petition challenged the validity of a resolution enacted under Section 702 of The Second Class Township Code*fn1 by the appellees, the Township of Springbrook and the Board of Supervisors of Springbrook Township.
On October 19, 1979, the Board of Supervisors, pursuant to Section 702 of the Code, adopted a resolution prohibiting the manufacture of fireworks*fn2 within Springbrook Township. The appellant, an owner of a certain parcel of land in Springbrook Township, intended to use this property as the site for a fireworks manufacturing plant and on April 9, 1980, he filed a subdivision plan with the Board of Supervisors as required
by a subdivision and land development ordinance. Subsequent to the submission of the plan, the appellant petitioned the court below for a declaratory judgment ruling the aforementioned fireworks resolution unconstitutional. Meanwhile, on June 12, 1980, the Board of Supervisors denied the application for approval of the subdivision plan on the basis of the October 19, 1979 resolution, and the appellant filed in the court below -- in addition to the declaratory judgment action -- an appeal of the subdivision denial. Before us now is only the appeal of the denial of the appellant's petition for declaratory judgment.
The court below gave the following reasons for its decision to deny the appellant's petition: the existence of ancillary proceedings was sufficient in and of itself to deny the petition; the averments in the petition are prolix, vague, conclusory and couched in general terms alleging the unconstitutionality of the resolution; and, Section 1004 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), Act of June 1, 1972, P.L. , as amended, 53 P.S. § 11004, is the exclusive mechanism by which any landowner may challenge the substantive validity of an ordinance restricting the use of his land.
The appellant contends here that the court below abused its discretion and erred as a matter of law in denying his petition for declaratory judgment because the exclusive statutory remedy relied upon by the court below does not obtain here; this remedy as set forth in Section 1004 of the MPC applies only to zoning ordinances and the resolution here was not such an ordinance but merely a resolution enacted under Section 702 of the Code. He also argues that, according to the recently revised Declaratory Judgments Act (Act), 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 7531-7541, the existence of an alternative remedy is not a ground for the refusal of a declaratory judgment petition.
Although we agree with the appellant's first contention, we must nevertheless affirm because we believe that proper grounds for the denial of his petition were ...