Case Involving 42 Pa. C.S. Section 5571(C)(5)

In Mercurio v. Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority, 839 A.2d 1196 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003), residents of Harmar Township, Allegheny County, sought to enjoin tax increment financing of a proposed commercial development. The residents raised three issues. First, they argued that the County Commissioners failed to hold a public hearing in violation of Section 5(a)(5) of the TIF Act, 53 P.S. 6930.5(a)(5). Second, they contended that the adoption of the tax increment financing (TIF) plan by the taxing districts was arbitrary and capricious based upon a number of substantive defects, including that the defendants approved the TIF plan without due deliberation; the TIF plan conflicted with Harmar Township's comprehensive plan; and the TIF district was not "blighted" under Section 12.1 of the Urban Redevelopment Law, 35 P.S. 1712.1. Third, the residents averred that the developer's revised permit application to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection changed the project so substantially that the development could not be implemented without an amendment to the TIF plan. In accordance with these claims, the residents sought a declaration that the County resolution adopting the TIF plan and the Township resolution creating the TIF district were each null and void; a declaration that the site of the TIF district was not blighted; and a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from further implementing the TIF plan. The trial court rejected the residents' claims. It determined that their challenges to the procedures used to pass the resolutions were untimely under 42 Pa. C.S. 5571(c)(5). Regarding the allegations of substantive defects in the TIF resolutions, the trial court concluded that "absent a determination that the legislative body did not act in good faith or acted wholly arbitrarily a certification of an area as blighted was not subject to judicial review." Mercurio, 839 A.2d at 1201. Accordingly, the trial court sustained the defendants' preliminary objections and dismissed the residents' complaint. On appeal, the residents argued, inter alia, that their challenge was not untimely because the substantive defects alleged in their complaint rendered the resolutions that created the TIF district invalid. This Court rejected this argument and, in doing so, explained as follows: Essentially, the Appellants disagree with, and attack the enactments by the various taxing bodies that created the TIF District. It is not within the jurisdiction of this Court to rule on the wisdom of legislative enactments. "The judiciary may not sit as a superlegislature to judge the wisdom or desirability of legislative policy determinations made in areas that neither affect fundamental rights nor proceeds along suspect lines." Fischer v. Commonwealth Department of Public Welfare, 85 Pa. Cmwlth. 240, 482 A.2d 1148, 1161 (1984), affirmed, 509 Pa. 293, 502 A.2d 114 (1985), quoting, City of New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U.S. 297, 303, 96 S. Ct. 2513, 49 L. Ed. 2d 511 (1976). Mercurio, 839 A.2d at 1203.