Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In Re: Ross Township Election District Reapportionment, No. Misc. 6 of 1983.
William W. Milnes, Brandt, Milnes, Rea and Wagner, for appellant.
John D. O'Brien, Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, for appellee.
Judges Williams, Jr., Doyle and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 508]
The Board of Commissioners of the Township of Ross (Commissioners) appeals here an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which set aside a reapportionment plan developed by the Commissioners. The Court also decreed that a "Reapportionment Committee" consisting of three members*fn1 be established to act "pursuant to further Order of [that] Court." See Section 6 of the Municipal Reapportionment Act (Act), Act of December 13, 1974, P.L. 947, as amended, 53 P.S. § 11606.
[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 509]
On December 27, 1982, the Commissioners had adopted a reapportionment plan in Ordinance No. 1427 pursuant to Section 3 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 11603 which reads that:
Within the year following that in which the Federal census, decennial or special, is officially and finally reported, and at such times as the governing body of any municipality shall deem necessary, each municipality having a governing body not entirely elected at large shall be reapportioned into districts by its governing body. The governing body shall number the districts.
Districts shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable as officially and finally reported in the most recent Federal census, decennial or special.
Twelve resident electors of the township filed a Petition to Contest the Reapportionment Plan on January 21, 1983, Section 6 of the Act.*fn2 The trial court reviewed the plan in light of the criteria set forth in the above-cited Section 3 of the Act, and held that, although the districts were compact, contiguous and nearly equal in population, it appeared that some constitutionally impermissible considerations "tainted" the composition of the ninth ward. Pursuant to Section 6 of the Act, the trial court then rejected the plan and ordered that a "Reapportionment Committee" be formed. Subsequently, the Commissioners filed the present appeal. The residents answered with a motion to dismiss.
[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 510]
In their motion to dismiss, the residents argue that the Commissioners' appeal is interlocutory in that it was not taken from a final order and does not fall within the scope of Pa. R.A.P. 311, Interlocutory Appeals as of Right. The Commissioners contend, however, that their appeal is not interlocutory, because the trial court's decision to establish a "Reapportionment Committee" has ...