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JOHN O. VARTAN v. STEPHEN R. REED ET AL. WILLIAM KEISLING AND HARRISTOWN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (08/28/86)

decided: August 28, 1986.

JOHN O. VARTAN
v.
STEPHEN R. REED ET AL. WILLIAM KEISLING AND HARRISTOWN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in the case of John O Vartan v. Stephen R. Reed, Bernard Hammer, William Keisling, City of Harrisburg, Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority and Harristown Development Corporation, No. 4409 Equity 1984.

COUNSEL

Francis B. Haas, Jr., with him, F. Murray Bryan and Stephen A. Moore, McNees, Wallace & Nurick, for appellants.

Joseph A. Klein, with him, Jack Hardy, Patrick T. Ryan, John Chesney, Elaine J. James and Bonnie A. Barnett, Drinker, Biddle & Reath, for appellee.

Judges Barry and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry. Senior Judge Kalish concurs in the result only.

Author: Barry

[ 100 Pa. Commw. Page 164]

William Keisling and Harristown Development Corporation (appellants) appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County which enjoined the defendants below (the City of Harrisburg and its Mayor, Stephen R. Reed, the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority and its Chairman, Bernard Hammer, and Harristown Development Corporation and its Executive Vice-President William Keisling) from acquiring or attempting to acquire the property of John O. Vartan (appellee) by eminent domain, and ordered that appellee is entitled to use and develop his property, subject only to zoning restrictions applicable in zone PB2. We reverse the trial court.

The Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority was created pursuant to the Urban Redevelopment Law (Law), May 24, 1945, P.L. 991, as amended, 35 P.S. ยง 1702. This Law created authorities for the public purpose of eliminating blighted areas through economically and socially sound redevelopment in conformity with the comprehensive general plan of the respective municipalities for residential, recreational, commercial, industrial or other purposes. Such purposes were declared to be public uses for which property may be acquired by the exercise of the power of eminent domain.

[ 100 Pa. Commw. Page 165]

To implement the purpose of this Law, in addition to the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority, the Harristown Development Corporation was created, a non-profit corporation which was a prime mover in the redevelopment purpose. The Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority, the City of Harrisburg, and the Harristown Development Corporation entered into a cooperative agreement to further implement the plan of development.

Pursuant to the Urban Redevelopment Law, an area certified as a redevelopment area, known as the Harristown Urban Renewal Plan (plan), was adopted by the City Council on October 8, 1974. The plan called for new zoning regulations in the plan area. Business districts and office buildings with parking facilities were to be the central pivots designed to stimulate retail and commercial activities. The redevelopment plan has been amended about seven times since its inception. In the meantime, much redevelopment in the area had taken place.

In August, 1984, appellee purchased 222-226 Chestnut Street and 225-235 Blackberry Street, both located in this renewal area, which was zoned PB1 by the plan. The trial court found as a fact that when appellee purchased this property he knew or should have known that applicable PB1 zoning regulations prohibited construction of a building in excess of 100 feet in height, and with a maximum floor area ratio of 5 to 1, and that the property was on an urban renewal plan for acquisition for use as a parking garage.

On August 9, 1984, appellee announced publicly that he intended to build a 15 story office building on the site, contrary to the urban renewal plan and contrary to PB1 zoning regulations. On August 29, 1984, appellee was advised by the Harristown ...


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