Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in the case of Greenacres Apartments, Inc. v. Bristol Township, et al., No. 77-11191-10-5.
Steven E. Wolfe, Fink, Fink & Associates, for appellant.
Clyde W. Waite, for appellees.
Judges Williams, Jr., Barry and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 573]
Greenacres Apartments, Inc. (Appellant) appeals here from an order of the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas which dismissed the Appellant's complaint in equity.
The Appellant owns and operates a large apartment complex located within Bristol Township (Township), and a township ordinance*fn1 provides for the assessment and collection of an annual five dollar inspection and registration fee for each rental unit.*fn2 In November, 1977, the Appellant filed an equity action against the Township and its board of supervisors, seeking to enjoin the assessment or collection of the fee for its apartments as well as a determination of the ordinance's validity. On December 19, 1980, a trial was conducted, and, on June 24, 1982, the Chancellor
[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 574]
filed her opinion and a decree nisi denying and dismissing the complaint. On May 31, 1983, the Appellant's exceptions to the Chancellor's adjudication were dismissed by the court below en banc, and the instant appeal followed.
We are, of course, mindful that our scope of review in equity matters is limited to determining whether or not the trial court committed an error of law or abused its discretion. Moreover, the equity court's decision will stand where there is sufficient evidence to support the Chancellor's findings and the reasonable inferences and conclusions which may be derived therefrom. Quaker City Yacht Club v. Williams, 59 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 256, 429 A.2d 1204 (1981).
Initially, the Appellant argues that the ordinance is invalid because the evidence purportedly shows that inspection of the rental units is not performed regularly and, therefore, that the fee is not a licensing fee to defray costs but an invalid revenue raising measure.
After carefully reviewing the record, we believe that there is substantial evidence therein to support the trial court's finding that the inspections actually are conducted as the Township claims. The testimony of the Township's Assistant Director of Licenses and Inspections indicates that he employs two full time and three part time inspectors who work their way through the Township's apartment complexes in the course of each year. The Appellant itself ...