Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in case of In Re: Condemnation of Property of Thomas A. Reynolds and Katherine L. Reynolds, his wife, in the City of Arnold, located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifteenth Street, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, by the Westmoreland County Housing Authority for public housing, No. 5006 of 1981, In Rem.
Louis H. Ceraso, for appellant.
James C. Sinwell, for appellee, Mac-Beth Realty, Inc.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges MacPhail and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barbieri.
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The City of Arnold (City) appeals here from an opinion and order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County distributing the damages awarded in a condemnation proceeding. We affirm.
The facts in this case are not in dispute. On May 19, 1966, Thomas A. Reynolds and his wife, Katherine L. Reynolds executed a $75,000 mortgage in favor of the Security First Savings and Loan Association on a property they owned in Westmoreland County. This mortgage was duly recorded and was subsequently transferred, by a recorded instrument, to Mac-Beth Realty, Inc. (Mac-Beth) on September 30, 1975.
Thereafter, in 1976, the City filed an action in equity against the Reynolds to have a fire damaged
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building on their property declared a public nuisance. When no defense was offered to this action, the building was so declared and the Reynolds were directed to remove it. In its final decree, the Court authorized the City to remove the building at the Reynolds' expense if they had not removed it as of January 5, 1977. When the Reynolds took no action in response to the court's final decree, the City demolished the building at a cost of $15,500.00. The City took no further action, however, to file a lien against the property.
Finally, on June 12, 1981, the Westmoreland County Housing Authority (Authority) filed a Declaration of Taking against the property, and the estimate of just compensation was subsequently set at $12,500.00. When both the City and Mac-Beth claimed first priority to this damage award, the Authority, pursuant to the provisions of Section 521 of the Eminent Domain Code,*fn1 26 P.S. § 1-521, petitioned the court of common pleas to distribute the damages. Before the court, the issue framed by the parties was whether or not the City had a valid "municipal claim" within the intendment of Section 1 of the Act of May 16, 1923 (Act), P.L. 207, as amended, 53 P.S. § 7101.*fn2 The court subsequently concluded, however, that the city did not have a valid municipal claim since, under the provisions
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of Section 9 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 7143, such claims must be filed with the court of common pleas to be effective. The court accordingly awarded the damages ...