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ERIE COUNTY LEAGUE WOMEN VOTERS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/29/87)

decided: May 29, 1987.

ERIE COUNTY LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS, ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, BUREAU OF STATE PARKS, RESPONDENTS



Appeal in the case of Erie County League of Women Voters, et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Resources, Bureau of State Parks.

COUNSEL

George M. Schroeck, with him, Elliot J. Segel, Schroeck, Segel & Murray, P.C., for petitioners.

Amy L. Putnam, Assistant Counsel, with her, M. Dukes Pepper, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges MacPhail and Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 370]

Several organizations*fn1 (jointly, Petitioners) have filed a complaint in equity in our original jurisdiction*fn2 seeking relief in the form of an injunction and declaratory judgment against the Department of Environmental Resources (DER) and the Bureau of State Parks (Bureau) (jointly, Respondents). The complaint, which contains three counts, requests, inter alia, that Respondents be permanently enjoined from operating thirteen elevated sand mound sewage systems in Presque Isle State Park (Presque Isle), that the sewage systems be declared a public nuisance and that the proposed construction of the sewage facilities be declared illegal.

Presently before us for disposition are Respondents' preliminary objections which raise questions of jurisdiction, standing, failure to join indispensable parties and a motion for a more specific pleading. We initially note that in ruling on preliminary objections, we will consider as true all well-pleaded facts and inferences reasonably

[ 106 Pa. Commw. Page 371]

    deducible therefrom, but not conclusions of law, argumentative allegations or opinions. Ohio Casualty Group of Insurances Cos. v. Argonaut Insurance Co., 92 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 560, 500 A.2d 191 (1985). Keeping this standard in mind, we will briefly summarize the facts alleged in Petitioners' complaint.

On June 20, 1983, the Erie County Health Department issued thirteen permits for sand mound sewage facilities to the Bureau to replace the prior outmoded sewage disposal system on Presque Isle. Petitioners first became aware that new sewage facilities were to be built on Presque Isle in early 1984. No attempt was made by Petitioners to file an appeal from the grant of the sewage permits at that time.

The complaint alleges that Petitioners thereafter attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate with Respondents to ensure that environmentally sound sewage facilities were provided and adequately monitored. Petitioners allege that DER was aware that the sand mound systems were unsafe, but nevertheless authorized their use for the 1986 operating season. By April 1, 1986, DER had decided to modify the sand mound systems by installing aerobic tank and disinfection units. Petitioners allege that the new facilities are in violation of various DER regulations relating to sand mound sewage facilities*fn3 and that permits for the facilities should never have been issued.

In Count I, Petitioners seek to permanently enjoin Respondents from operating the sand mound systems, apparently including the proposed addition of aerobic tank and ...


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