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Feudale v. Aqua Pa., Inc.

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

July 22, 2015

Richard Ralph Feudale, Petitioner
v.
Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc. and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources of the Commonwealth of PA, Respondents

Submitted October 24, 2014.

Court of ORIGINAL JURISDICTION.

Richard R. Feudale, Mount Carmel, for petitioner.

Mark C. Baldwin, Assistant Counsel, Harrisburg, for respondent.

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉ E COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE P. KEVIN BROBSON, Judge, HONOROABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 463

P. KEVIN BROBSON, JUDGE.

Before the Court are separate preliminary objections of Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc.

Page 464

(Aqua) and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) (collectively, Respondents), to a complaint filed pro se by Richard Ralph Feudale (Feudale) in this Court's original jurisdiction. For the reasons discussed below, Respondents' preliminary objections are sustained.

On May 23, 2014, Feudale filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction[1] in the Court of Common Pleas for Northumberland County against Aqua and DCNR. Aqua provides water services to more than 1.4 million residents in 30 counties, including the residents of its Roaring Creek/Susquehanna division in parts of Adams, Bradford, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Northumberland, Schuylkill, and Snyder Counties. DCNR is the administrative agency charged with maintaining, preserving, and managing state parks and state forests, among other duties. The Commonwealth acquired the Roaring Creek Tract of Weiser State Forest in 2003, and DCNR now manages it as part of the state forest system. Aqua acquired the water rights in the Roaring Creek Tract prior to the Commonwealth's acquisition of the property and now holds an easement for those water rights on the Roaring Creek Tract.

As alleged in the complaint, this action arises, in part, out of Feudale's objections to Aqua's replacement of a century-old, gravity-fed waterline that runs through certain lands situated in Northumberland and Columbia Counties, now owned and managed by DCNR. Specifically, Feudale takes issue with the proposed location of the replacement waterline and the prospective logging and earthmoving activities that will be associated with the project. Feudale also objects to DCNR's timbering and forest regeneration/preservation activities currently being conducted within the same vicinity-- i.e., the Roaring Creek Tract. Feudale alleges that the activities undertaken by Aqua and DCNR affect " a uniquely picturesque and accessible part" of the Roaring Creek Tract, and that Aqua's plan would destroy a large swath of scenic forest and result in the degradation of the area's natural and historic aesthetic.

Feudale alleges that the waterline replacement and timbering activities are being carried out in disregard of the environmental impact and without the proper permits and approvals. As a result, Feudale makes the following claims in his complaint: (1) misrepresentation (against Aqua); (2) improper management of the Roaring Creek Tract under the History Code[2] and Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution[3] (against both Respondents); (3) punitive damages (against Aqua); and (4) permanent injunction (against both Respondents).

By order dated June 18, 2014, this matter was transferred from the Court of Common Pleas for Northumberland County to this Court's original jurisdiction. Both Aqua and DCNR ...


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