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FAIRWOOD MANOR ASSOCIATES v. BOROUGH IRWIN (07/02/86)

decided: July 2, 1986.

FAIRWOOD MANOR ASSOCIATES, A LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, OWNER OR REPUTED OWNER, ET AL., APPELLANTS
v.
BOROUGH OF IRWIN, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, APPELLEE. (6 CASES)



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, in case of Borough of Irwin, a Municipal Corporation v. Fairwood Manor Associates, a limited partnership, owner or reputed owner; Fairwood Manor Unit Owners Association, an unincorporated non-profit association, owner or reputed owner or terre tenant; A. Richard Nernberg, general partner and original Association Council Member, owner or reputed owner or terre tenant; Susan Nernberg, original Association Council Member, owner or reputed owner or terre tenant; Stanley Cohen and Paul Cohen, tenants in common, owners or reputed owners or terre tenants, No. 9994 of 1981 MLD, In Rem, Sewage Charges, Consolidated for trial, Nos. 5283 of 1982 MLD; 5285 of 1982 MLD; 5286 of 1982 MLD; 7452 of 1982 MLD and 1373 of 1983 MLD.

COUNSEL

W. Thomas Laffey, Jr., with him, Maurice A. Nernberg, Jr., Nernberg & Laffey, for appellants.

Alan K. Berk, with him, John N. Ward, Costello & Berk, for appellee.

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

Author: Palladino

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 475]

Fairwood Manor Associates, et al.*fn1 (Appellants) appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County (trial court) which entered judgment in favor of the Borough of Irwin (Borough) on nine municipal claims filed by the Borough pursuant to the Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Law.*fn2 We affirm.

[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 476]

The claims at issue were brought against Appellants for delinquent sewage charges allegedly due for sanitary sewage service provided by the Borough to condominium units in a residential complex known as "The Trees". Appellants contend that, under the applicable ordinances, they should have been billed for sewage service on the basis of water usage as measured by a water meter for each building of the complex, rather than on a flat rate basis per unit.

The trial court determined that under the Borough's sewage service ordinances each unit, rather than the entire complex, was to be treated as an equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) properly subject to the flat rate sanitary sewage charge imposed by the Borough. Accordingly, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the Borough.

On appeal to this Court, Appellants argue that the trial court erred in treating the units as apartments, rather than as a class of customers such as hotels or motels, under the Borough's ordinances. Appellants also contend that, if each unit is properly considered an EDU under the ordinances, the ordinances themselves are invalid because they do not classify customers in a reasonable fashion and do not equitably apportion the cost of sewage service to members within each class.

In reviewing the decision of a trial court, our scope of review is limited to a determination of whether the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, and whether the trial court committed an error of law. White Rock Sewage Corp. v. Township of Monroe, 77 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 119, 465 A.2d 102 (1983).

The ordinances in question establish a schedule of charges for sewer service and the treatment of sanitary sewage, to be paid at a monthly flat rate per Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU). The term ...


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