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Stawiarski v. Borough

October 20, 2006

STEPHEN STAWIARSKI AND SUMMERLEE STAWIARSKI, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SUMMIT HILL BOROUGH, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint (Doc. 5). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.*fn1

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs in this action are the owners of a parcel of land located in Summit Hill Borough, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1 p. 9.) In or about March of 2001, Plaintiffs leased the aforementioned property to SBA Properties, Inc. at the rate of $650.00 per month for a five-year term for placement of a cell tower. (Doc. 1 p. 9.) Pursuant to the aforementioned lease, SBA Properties filed zoning applications on April 20, 2001 and May 1, 2001. (Doc. 1 p. 10.)

The following is alleged by Plaintiffs in their Complaint: On or about May 25, 2001, SBA's zoning application was denied by the Borough.

Plaintiffs filed an appeal of this denial on May 25, 2001. (Doc. 1 p. 10.) The Zoning Board of Summit Hill held a hearing in regard to this appeal on August 1, 2001 at which they declined to grant an approval pursuant to 53 P.S. § 10908(9). (Doc. 1 p. 10.)

On December 10, 2001, the Borough of Summit Hill passed a zoning ordinance regulating cell towers. (Doc. 1 p. 10.) Subsequently, the Borough re-zoned a parcel of its own property to conform to this new ordinance. (Doc. 1 p. 10.)

On or about July 29, 2002, the Borough of Summit Hill entered into a lease agreement with Atlas Tower Network, Inc. ("Atlas") for the recently re-zoned property owned by the Borough. (Doc. 1 p. 10.) On February 12, 2003, the Borough formally leased the property to Atlas. (Doc. 1 p. 11.) Pursuant to this lease, Atlas filed a zoning application and permit for approval on or about May 9, 2003. (Doc. 1 p. 11.) That application was approved on May 12, 2003 without a hearing. (Doc. 1 p. 11.)

Plaintiffs' Complaint was filed in the Court of Common Please of Carbon County on February 11, 2005. (Doc. 1 p. 9.) On March 31, 2006, the case was removed to this Court. (Doc. 1 p. 1.) Defendant filed the present Motion to Dismiss on April 5, 2006 (Doc. 5), along with a supporting brief (Doc. 6). Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition on May 25, 2006 (Doc. 7), and on June 9, 2006 Defendant filed a reply brief. (Doc. 10.)

This motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting all factual allegations in the complaint as true and "drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, no relief could be granted under any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint." Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents where the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached a copy of the document to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume that the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. West Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 (3d Cir. 1998), nor credit a complaint's "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions." Morse v. Lower Marion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining whether the plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of the claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. In order to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred. See Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). The defendant bears the burden of establishing that the ...


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