Morosco v. Historic Review Commission of Pittsburgh

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, No. 2106 C.D. 2010, February 24, 2012: An individual without any particular harm beyond the common interest lacks standing under PA law to appeal Pittsburgh historical commission’s decision allowing demolition of a historical building. Unreported opinion.

The Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission (HRC) granted a Certificate of Appropriateness allowing demolition of an historic building located in the historic Southside section of the City. An individual (Morosco) objected to the decision and the approval process and appealed to a Pennsylvania trial court. The trial court found that Morosco lacked standing. He appealed that decision to the Commonwealth Court. (Before Morosco filed his appeal, the Building was demolished.)

Morosco argued that because prior Pennsylvania court decisions held that a formal association may have standing to participate in a legal matter when one or all of its members individually have standing, he (Morosco) has standing based on the possibility that an association might have been able to establish that it has standing, even though in this case no association sought to represent one or all of its members.

The Court disagreed. The Court wrote that because no association had sought to challenge the HRC’s decision, the review in this case must focus solely on the question of whether Morosco was aggrieved by the HRC’s decision, meaning that he suffered “particular harm beyond the common interest of all citizens”.  Morosco was unable to demonstrate any harm other than that “based upon his interest as a property owner in the South Side district and because of his personal involvement in restoration of the Building that occurred approximately twenty years ago.” The Court found this was not a sufficiently particularized harm and denied Morosco standing.

The decision is available at http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=In%20PACO%2020120224808.xml&docbase=CSLWAR3-2007-CURR.

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