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Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. v. Connor

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
855 A.2d 873 (2004)


Facts

The Vernon Township Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. (Fire Department) (plaintiff) purchased a parcel of land within the Cuthbert Subdivision for the purpose of building a social hall that would sell alcohol to its patrons. After beginning construction, the Fire Department learned of a restrictive covenant barring the sale of alcohol within the subdivision. The Fire Department sought releases of the restrictive covenant from the owners of the 77 parcels in the subdivision. The owners of 68 parcels signed releases. The owners of three parcels neither signed releases nor sought to enforce the covenant. William E. Connor and others (defendants), who owned the remaining six parcels, refused to sign releases. The Fire Department sued to quiet title and for declaratory judgment that the restrictive covenant was obsolete and invalidated because of changed conditions in the immediate neighborhood. Specifically, the Fire Department argued there were now establishments selling alcohol in within two miles of the subdivision, though not within the subdivision itself. The trial court held the restrictive covenant valid and enforceable. The superior court reversed the trial court’s judgment on the grounds of changed conditions in the immediate neighborhood. The superior court further noted that 68 of the 77 parcel owners, and all of the property owners who testified, said they had not relied upon the alcohol restriction when purchasing the property. The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Newman, J.)

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Dissent (Castille, J.)

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