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AGNES V. BLAIR v. FERGUSON TOWNSHIP (03/27/84)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


March 27, 1984

AGNES V. BLAIR, APPELLANT
v.
FERGUSON TOWNSHIP, APPELLEE; AGNES V. BLAIR, APPELLANT V. FERGUSON TOWNSHIP, APPELLEE

No. 3056 C.D. 1981, No. 3179 C.D. 1981

Before Honorable Robert W. Williams, Jr., Judge Honorable Francis A. Barry, Judge Honorable Genevieve Blatt, Judge

Author: Barry

JUDGE BARRY

On August 29, 1980, appellant Agnes Blair was issued two citations, one charging a violation of the Ferguson Township Weed Ordinance (Weed Ordinance) and the second charging a violation of the Ferguson Township Solid Waste Ordinance (Solid Waste Ordinance). The appellant requested a hearing on both citations. On September 22, 1980, appellant was convicted of both violations by a district justice when appellant failed to appear for a hearing. She filed appeals in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County under the Pennsylvania Rules of Conduct, Office Standards and Civil Procedure for District Justices, Nos. 1004 and No. 1005, (Rules 1004 and 1005), which provide for appeals in civil matters.

On November 12, 1980, appellee Ferguson Township (Township) filed a motion to quash both appeals because of appellant's failure to comply with Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure No. 67 and No. 68; in the alternative, the Township sought to transfer the appeals to the criminal side of the Centre County Court. On November 18, 1980, appellant was served with a Rule to Show Cause why such motion should not be granted. On December 15, 1980, the court entered an order quashing both appeals when appellant failed to appear for a hearing.

In June, 1981, appellant was again charged with violating the same two ordinances and was convicted of both violations by a district justice. Appellant filed similar appeals under Rules 1004 and 1005. The Township again filed motions to quash the appeals.

On October 8, 1981, the appellant filed a "petition to open"*fn1 the order of December 15, 1980. On November 9, 1981, the trial court heard argument on this petition. The trial court refused the relief requested by appellant. The court also transferred the appeals on the 1981 convictions to the criminal side of the court where, following a trial de novo pursuant to Pa. R. Crim. p. 67, appellant was convicted of violating both ordinances. She then appealed both orders to this Court and we ordered the appeals to be consolidated.

Appellant, who has proceeded pro se throughout this entire litigation, has filed a brief which can best be described as incoherent and unintelligible. She apparently argues that the 1981 order refusing to "open" the 1980 order quashing her appeals from the 1980 convictions should be reversed because she failed to receive notice of the hearing on the Township's rule to show cause why the appeal should not be quashed. She also apparently argues that a violation of the ordinances in question is civil, as opposed to criminal, in nature. Finally, she argues that the Weed Ordinance in question is unconstitutional.

The Township attempted to notify appellant of the hearing on the rule to show cause by certified mail, but the unopened envelope was returned, marked "unclaimed". Notice was then sent by first-class mail and appellant admits receiving it the day after the order quashing the appeals had been entered. Be that as it may, appellant waited approximately ten months before taking any action. This long unexcused delay precluded the trial court from doing anything but reaffirming its original order quashing the appeals. In Lower Merion Township v. Schenk, 247 Pa. Superior Ct. 494, 372 A.2d 934 (1977), the court held that violations of municipal ordinances are enforced in criminal proceedings. Finally, in Sobocinski v. City of Williamsport, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 425, 319 A.2d 697 (1974), we upheld the constitutionality of an ordinance similar to the one in the present case.

FRANCIS A. BARRY, Judge

Order

AND NOW, March 27, 1984, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, at No. 1980-2823, dated November 9, 1981, is affirmed.

FRANCIS A. BARRY, Judge

Order

AND NOW, March 27, 1984, the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, at No. 1981-2388, dated November 24, 1981, is affirmed.

FRANCIS A. BARRY, Judge


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