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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. NEW GREENSBURG AERIE FRATERNAL ORDER EAGLES NO. 3920 (05/08/84)

decided: May 8, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR CONTROL BOARD, APPELLANT
v.
THE NEW GREENSBURG AERIE FRATERNAL ORDER OF EAGLES NO. 3920, INC., APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in the case of Re: The New Greensburg Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles, No. 3920, Inc., 233 West Otterman Street, Greensburg, Pa. 15601, No. 74 Civil of 1982.

COUNSEL

Eileen S. Maunos, Assistant Counsel, with her, Felix Thau, Assistant Counsel, and Gary F. DiVito, Chief Counsel, for appellant.

Gregory T. Nichols, for appellee.

Judges Craig, Doyle and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 273]

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County which reversed the board's denial of an application for a new club liquor license filed by the New Greensburg Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles, No. 3920, Inc.

The common pleas court heard the matter de novo, and received additional testimony and a significant amount of documentary evidence which the club had not produced at the board hearing. The court was therefore permitted to substitute its findings of fact for those of the board, and to reverse on the basis of its own findings. Ruse Appeal, 67 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 299, 447 A.2d 331 (1982). We must determine whether substantial evidence supports the court's

[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 274]

    findings that Greensburg is located within a resort area and that the members of the Eagles Club need the liquor license.*fn1

The Eagles Club is located in the City of Greensburg in Westmoreland County. At the time of application, the city had well in excess of its quota of eight retail liquor licenses, with twenty-two restaurant liquor licenses and one retail dispenser eating place license issued to establishments within the municipality. In addition, two hotel, fourteen club and two catering club licenses, none of which are counted against the quota, were in effect at that time.

The Eagles Club applied for a new club liquor license, arguing that it is located in a resort area and therefore falls within the quota limit exception in section 461(b) of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code,*fn2 47 P.S. ยง 4-461(b), which provides in part: "The board shall have the power to increase the number of licenses in any . . . municipality which in the opinion of the board is located within a resort area." The applicant bears the burden of proving that (1) the premises sought to be licensed are located within a resort area, and (2) there is a need for the additional license within the area. Springdale District Sportsmen's Association Liquor Case, 20 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 479, 342 A.2d 802 (1975).

Because the legislature has not defined "resort area," the courts have developed a large body of law attempting to arrive at a judicial definition of the term. In Bierman Liquor License Case, 188 Pa. Superior Ct. 200, 145 A.2d 876 (1958), the Superior

[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 275]

Court characterized the purpose of the resort area exception as follows:

The proceedings before the legislature at the time of the enactment of the original statute disclosed that this exception to the quota rule "was drafted solely for the purpose of having an equitable distribution of licenses" in areas wherein at certain seasons the "population" is greatly increased, "making it quite obvious that the usual number of licenses would not be adequate to serve the people." It is apparent that the legislature contemplated the seasonal influx ...


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