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BOROUGH CANONSBURG v. DOROTHY NICHOLS (07/30/87)

decided: July 30, 1987.

BOROUGH OF CANONSBURG
v.
DOROTHY NICHOLS, ET AL. CANON-MCMILLAN SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT. BOROUGH OF CANONSBURG, APPELLANT V. DOROTHY NICHOLS, ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County in case of Borough of Canonsburg v. Dorothy Nichols; G.D.C. Finance Cons. Disc. Co.; Washington County; Washington County Tax Claim Bureau; Canon-McMillan School District; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, No. 8092 in Equity, Book 46, Page 263.

COUNSEL

Templeton Smith, Jr., with him, Richard DiSalle, Rose, Schmidt, Chapman, Duff & Hasley, for appellant, Canon-McMillan School District.

Melvin B. Bassi, for appellee, Washington County.

Frank C. Roney, Jr., with him, Frank C. Roney, Roney & Roney, for appellant, Borough of Canonsburg.

Stephen S. Russell, Chief Staff Counsel, Amicus Curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

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

Author: Macphail

[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 137]

Canon-McMillan School District and the Borough of Canonsburg (Appellants) have filed appeals, which have been consolidated for our consideration, from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County which ordered that the costs of abating a nuisance on property purchased by Washington County (County) at judicial tax sale, be shared by Appellants and the County in proportion to the taxes due them on the property.*fn1

[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 138]

The issue presented by the instant case is purely one of law and, as noted by the common pleas court, one of first impression. At issue are the respective duties of taxing districts to which the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law)*fn2 is applicable in bearing the costs of demolishing a structure, located on County-owned tax delinquent property, which all parties agree constitutes a public and attractive nuisance. Appellants argue that the County bears initial responsibility for paying the costs of demolition. Appellants contend that those costs may later be recovered by the County from the proceeds of any resale of the property.

The property which is the subject of the instant matter contained a dwelling which was damaged by fire. Shortly thereafter, the owners became delinquent in paying local property taxes during 1981 and 1982. Attempts by the Washington County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) to sell the property at or above the upset price of $3,998.60 were unsuccessful. The County subsequently purchased the property, on March 14, 1985, at public judicial sale as it is authorized to do by Section 612.1 of the Law, 72 P.S. ยง 5860.612-1.

On September 14, 1983, the Borough filed an action in equity seeking to have the dwelling declared a nuisance and ordered demolished. The common pleas court, noting the dilapidated state of the structure, found that the existence of a public nuisance was undisputed, with the only remaining ...


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