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GATEWAY MOTELS v. MUNICIPALITY MONROEVILLE (05/08/87)

decided: May 8, 1987.

GATEWAY MOTELS, INC., APPELLANT
v.
MUNICIPALITY OF MONROEVILLE, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of Municipality of Monroeville v. Gateway Motels, Inc., No. GD-85-20262.

COUNSEL

Anthony J. Martin, Martin and Martin, P.C., for appellant.

Thomas W. Corbett, Jr., with him, John M. Silvestri, Lawrence A. Demase, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 43]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County granting a preliminary injunction in favor of the Municipality of Monroeville (Municipality) and ordering Gateway Motels, Inc. (Gateway) to comply with the provisions of certain municipal ordinances and resolutions within sixty days of the date of the court order.

Gateway operates a motel in the Municipality. In 1976 the Municipality, via Resolution 76-2, approved the conditional use application of Al Monzo, Gateway's president, for the location of a helicopter landing site upon the motel property. Gateway subsequently acquired the relevant state and federal approvals to operate the private heliport. The Municipality's resolution, however, contained certain conditional provisions including, inter alia, a requirement that the landowner hook up its private fire alarm to the municipal fire system and a requirement that certain fire equipment be placed in close proximity to the heliport. In addition, other applicable local laws require the landowner to design fire lanes that are to be designated by posted signs (Gateway contends it has done this), equip the aircraft hangar with an automatic sprinkler system, and secure a permit for the operation of the heliport.

It appears that Gateway initially refused to comply with the above conditions, some of which became the subject of litigation in 1977 and resulted in a consent decree being issued in April of 1979, which decree directed Gateway to comply with the requirements of Ordinance

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 4476]

-2 as well as other local ordinances. Gateway refused to do so. Eventually the Municipality commenced the instant litigation in equity attempting again to compel compliance with local ordinances.

There is, in addition, a collateral lawsuit that must be briefly described. Duquesne Light Company maintains overhead electrical transmission lines at the situs in question and these lines interfere with the approach of the helicopter. Gateway instituted litigation seeking to have the transmission lines moved. The trial court ruled in Gateway's favor, but the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed. Appeal was taken to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from that decision and, at the time the instant matter was in the trial court, the Supreme Court had not acted upon the petition for appeal.

While there are numerous local regulations that enter into the picture here, it appears that in actuality it is only with respect to two categories that compliance is being sought -- the hooking-up of Gateway's alarm system to that of the Municipality and the installation of fire equipment at the heliport landing site and in the hangar. Although there was no testimony taken below, both counsel engaged in legal argument before the trial court, during which time Gateway's counsel admitted non-compliance with these ordinance requirements. Thus, the fact of non-compliance is not in dispute and we need only decide whether the legal defenses asserted below were properly disposed of by the trial court.

We shall consider the heliport landing and hangar safety equipment issue first. Gateway argues that its compliance with the provisions pertaining to the safety equipment was not necessary because in a letter of September 10, 1980, the Municipal Manager stated that the Municipality would postpone the approval date of Gateway's conditional application pending resolution of

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 45]

    the Duquesne lawsuit. Gateway thus contends that because that lawsuit is still not finally resolved, the Municipality is now estopped from requiring compliance with ...


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