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MATTER CONDEMNATION BY URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PITTSBURGH ETC. E-V COMPANY (07/08/88)

decided: July 8, 1988.

IN THE MATTER OF: CONDEMNATION BY URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF PITTSBURGH ETC. E-V COMPANY, A PARTNERSHIP COMPOSED OF EMIL F. KEHR AND VINCENT E. MALONE AND KELLER OFFICE EQUIPMENT COMPANY, APPELLANTS


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in the case of In the Matter of: Condemnation by Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh of certain land in the twenty-second and twenty-third wards of the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, redevelopment area No. 39 (North Shore) being property of: E-V Company, a partnership composed of Emil F. Kehr and Vincent E. Malone, or any other persons found to have an interest in the property, Keller Office Equipment Company, Pittsburgh Harley Davidson, Inc., formerly Allegheny County Distributors, Inc., a Pennsylvania Corporation, or any other person found to have an interest in the property, No. G.D. 81-27642.

COUNSEL

Thomas J. Dempsey, for appellants.

George R. Specter, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges MacPhail, Barry, Colins, Palladino, McGinley and Smith. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 476]

E-V Company and its lessee Keller Office Equipment Company (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Condemnees") appeal an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court order overruling their preliminary objections to the declaration of taking filed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (Authority).

E-V, a partnership whose principals are also the shareholders of Keller, purchased the subject property in 1977, allegedly without notice that it was situated within an area certified as blighted since 1964.

The City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission (Commission) originally issued a certificate of blight in 1964 for portions of the Lower North Side section of the City as a step in the ongoing "Pittsburgh Renaissance." However,

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 477]

    no redevelopment activity was taken pursuant to this certification.

In October 1971, the Commission issued a new blight certificate for portions of the same area, which included the Condemnees' property. This newly certified section became known as the North Shore Redevelopment Area. Pursuant to the latter certification, and in compliance with the statutory scheme set forth in the Urban Redevelopment Law, Act of May 24, 1945, P.L. 991, as amended, 35 P.S. ยงยง 1701-1719, the Authority prepared the North Shore Redevelopment Proposal and submitted it to the Commission for review. The Commission approved the Proposal and authorized its submission to the City Council of Pittsburgh (Council). After a public hearing in April 1972, Council voted to approve the Proposal on May 5, 1972, thereby empowering the Authority to take such action as may be necessary for its implementation.

The Authority engaged in various redevelopment activities throughout the following years, and in October 1981, filed the instant declaration of taking for the property. The Condemnees filed preliminary objections which essentially challenged the propriety of the blight certification and the constitutionality of the certification and condemnation procedures under due process principles of the United States and Commonwealth Constitutions. After submission of deposition testimony and exhibits, the trial court overruled the preliminary objections. Condemnees presently appeal to this Court.

[ 117 Pa. Commw. Page 478]

Our scope of review in eminent domain cases is limited to a determination of whether the trial court's decision evidences an abuse of discretion or error of law. Spory Appeal, 54 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 17, 419 A.2d 804 (1980). With respect to judicial review in redevelopment authority condemnation cases, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated in Crawford v. Redevelopment Page 478} Authority of County of Fayette, 418 Pa. 549, 554, 211 A.2d 866, 868 (1965):

The power of discretion over what areas are to be considered blighted is solely within the power of the Authority. The only function of the courts in this matter is to see that the Authority has not acted in bad faith; to see that the Authority has not acted arbitrarily; to see that the Authority has followed the statutory procedures in making its determination; and ...


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