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REVEREND ALFRED OTT v. LEON A. REAGER (04/22/83)

filed: April 22, 1983.

REVEREND ALFRED OTT, AS PASTOR OF ST. AMBROSE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LEON A. REAGER, MARIAN M. REAGER, AND MARGARET M. REAGER CONNORS, APPELLANTS



PHILADELPHIA OFFICE NO. 651 PHILADELPHIA 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, at No. S-1085 September Term, 1977.

COUNSEL

Maureen E. Hogan, Pottsville, for appellants.

Thomas J. Nickels, Pottsville, for appellee.

Hester, Cavanaugh and Van der Voort, JJ.

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 313 Pa. Super. Page 366]

This is an action in equity. The plaintiff-appellee is the pastor of a church erected on a tract of land in North Manheim Township of which real property the pastor is the legal owner by a deed dated February 19, 1973. The church property's western boundary, according to the deed description and most of the testimony abuts Maple Court, a fifteen foot alley located in Schuylkill Haven Borough.*fn1 The Borough has been made an "involuntary plaintiff" in these proceedings, and has not been an active party. Maple

[ 313 Pa. Super. Page 367]

Court has never been formally accepted as a public street by the Borough.

In November 1976, the plaintiff-appellee began construction of a church on the property. The church plans envisioned a paved driveway, using Maple Court, at the point where it intersects with Pear Street, for ingress and egress. Maple Court runs roughly north and south; as indicated above, it abuts the western boundary of the church property.

The appellants own property fronting on Pear Street. Pear Street runs east and west; is an opened, paved street, accepted by the Borough by ordinance in 1966; and on its eastern end terminates in a T intersection with Maple Court. Sometime after 1966 (not otherwise specified) the paving was extended by the Borough across the intersection with Maple Court to the hedge and tree line forming the church's western boundary. The driveway from the church parking lot, as planned, would empty into this paved portion of the T intersection.

In May, 1977, appellants caused an automobile to be placed in the Maple Court-Pear Street intersection, thus blocking public access across the intersection into the church property; and thereafter placed chain barriers across Maple Court at the intersection of Pear Street and also at the intersection of another street, Fern Court some short distance to the north.

The Church filed an equity action to enjoin appellants from obstructing access from the church property to Pear Street. The lower court found in favor of appellee. Exceptions were denied and a final decree was entered. This appeal followed.

The resolution of this appeal is dependent upon whether the public in general has a legal right of access across the intersection, which is, in turn, dependent upon whether Maple Court is a public street. It is undisputed that the Borough never expressly accepted or acquired ...


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