Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In Re: Appeal of Gateway School District from the Action of the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County on Property Owned by Cobra Development Corp., No. GD86-1055.
John F. Cambest, Dattilo, Barry, Fasulo & Cambest, for Municipality of Monroeville, appellant.
Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., with him, Patrick J. Clair, Goehring, Rutter & Boehm, for Gateway School District, appellant.
Karl Osterhout, with him, Robert N. Peirce, Jr., Robert N. Peirce, Jr. & Associates, for Cobra Development Corporation, appellee.
Judges Craig, Doyle and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge Barry did not participate in the decision in this case.
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 465]
This is an appeal by Gateway School District and the Municipality of Monroeville challenging the propriety of an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County that (1) allowed the discontinuance of Gateway's court appeal of Cobra Development Corporation's real estate tax assessment for the tax year 1985, but (2) refused to discontinue Cobra's automatic appeals of the tax assessments for 1986 and 1987.
Cobra had appealed the 1985 tax assessment of its real estate to the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review. The board reduced the assessment from $373,850.00 to $125,000.00. Gateway appealed that reduction to the court of common pleas. Cobra, apparently satisfied with the reduction, did not file an appeal. As required by the local rules of court, Gateway listed in its appeal, as interested parties, Cobra, the Municipality of Monroeville, and the County of Allegheny, all of which entered appearances.
While the appeal was pending in the court of common pleas, the board increased the tax assessment of the same property for the years 1986 and 1987 to $373,850.00. Cobra did not file an express appeal as to these assessments. However, pursuant to statutory provisions discussed below, the trial court subsequently deemed appeals as to those later years, 1986 and 1987, to be automatically before it, thus giving rise to one of the issues to be considered.
In accordance with local rule 502, a special master held a conciliation conference on July 15, 1987. Because the conciliation was unsuccessful, a de novo hearing was eventually scheduled for February 11, 1988. On January 28, 1988, however, Gateway filed a Praecipe to Settle and Discontinue the appeal, and Cobra responded with a Petition to Strike Gateway's Praecipe. The trial court
[ 124 Pa. Commw. Page 466]
then issued the order now before us allowing discontinuance by Gateway, but refusing it otherwise, thus permitting Cobra to proceed against the other two taxing bodies as to the 1985, 1986 and 1987 assessments. In so ordering, the trial judge relied upon provisions of local rule 502 which require the consent of all parties when discontinuance is sought at a described stage of the proceeding, thus raising the other issue stated below.
Gateway and Monroeville contend that the court of common pleas' decision is erroneous because that order, by applying local rule 502, allows a party, that has not expressly filed an appeal or cross appeal, to pursue an appeal after the original appellant, who first filed the appeal with the court of common pleas, has withdrawn. Gateway and Monroeville argue that the trial court should have applied Pa. R.C.P. No. 229, the state rule allowing discontinuances in civil proceedings ...