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In re G.J.K. & Sons, LLC

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

December 1, 2017

IN RE: G.J.K. & SONS, LLC AND SOUTH OAKVIEW HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION (BOOK 468, PAGE 2088) APPEAL OF: G.J.K. & SONS, LLC

         Appeal from the Order Entered October 6, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of Greene County Civil Division at No(s): 491 AD 2014.

          BEFORE: MOULTON, J., SOLANO, J., and MUSMANNO, J.

          OPINION

          MOULTON, JUDGE.

         G.J.K. & Sons, LLC ("GJK") appeals from the October 6, 2016 order of the Greene County Court of Common Pleas granting Willard Hetrick's "Motion to Remove Deed from Record." While we understand the trial court's interest in removing a purportedly fraudulent deed from the records of the Greene County Recorder of Deeds, we conclude that the court lacked jurisdiction to take such action. Accordingly, we are constrained to vacate the trial court's order and remand for the dismissal of the proceedings.

         The trial court set forth the factual and procedural history of this matter as follows:

[G]K is] a developer of ten to fifteen residential building lots known as "South Oakview" in Franklin Township, Greene County. On each lot has been built a home. No formal lot "Plan" was approved by either the Franklin Township or the Greene County Planning Commissions. [G]K] sold lots one at a time until their final tract was the one serving the access road, and at issue. Because this road does not meet the required engineering standards, Franklin Township never "accepted" this "Final Tract" and it has not been dedicated as a public road. It is paved and suffering from creeping neglect. . . .
Willard Hetrick, a resident of a house built on a South Oakview lot . . . had a General Warranty Deed prepared, and on May 12, 2014, recorded it in the Greene County Office of Recorder of Deeds. On its face, the Deed appears to transfer ownership of this "Final Tract" roadway from [G]K] to the "South Oakview Homeowner's Association ["Association")]." However, the [Association] is a compete fiction. It does not exist.
On June 30, 2014, on behalf of lot owner Willard Hetrick, an attorney presented a "Motion to Strike Recorded Deed" to then President Judge William R. Nalitz, who soon retired without taking any formal action.[1] Later, as a new President Judge, this Court received a "Letter of Inquiry" from a second lot owner, Lenora Swiger, regarding the status of the "Hetrick Petition" of which until then, we were unaware. We directed the Swiger "Letter of Inquiry" be docketed to the miscellaneous records of the Prothonotary as a pro se "Motion" to consider Willard Hetrick's "Petition["] seeking to have the Deed administratively removed from the docket . . . .
No one disputes that [the Association] does not exist, but that may not have been obvious to the clerks of the Office of Recorder of Deeds.
On June 23, 2016, [G]K] submitted a Brief to this Court arguing that because no action had been initiated by a Complaint, or Writ of Summons, this Court's consideration of the matter was in violation of [the] Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, and should be dismissed. . . .
On June 28[], 2016, this Court held an informal hearing . . . on the record for the purpose of bringing together all those who may have an interest in the "Swiger Letter, " and the "Het[]rick Petition." Given notice were the South Oakview lot owners, Franklin Township officials, and Greene County Officials, and [G]K]. This Court heard statements from several who attended, including Counsel, and we decided to continue the matter so as to provide all parties ample time to attempt to mediate a resolution of the circumstance.
On October 3, 2016, this Court held a Status Conference with Counsel for [G]K], Franklin Township, and the County of Greene. Recognizing that no progress had been made, [G]K] renewed its Motion to Dismiss, which we granted.
On October 6, 2016, by Order, we also directed the Recorder of Deeds to "strike" the Deed in question from the recorded instruments docket, recognizing that the Deed should never have been allowed to be recorded, in that ...

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