Judges Opinions Public Notices, — March 2, 2021 19:28 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, March 3, 2021

Volume 58, No. 31

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

FICTITIOUS NAME

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

In Re: Lebanon County Tax Claim Bureau Real Estate Tax Sale-2019

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF LOUISE K. KOONS, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Mina K. Hankins, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF THERESA M. KUTZ, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

John B. Boyle, Executor

 

Anthony J. Fitzgibbons, Esquire

279 North Zinn’s Mill Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

717-279-8313

 

ESTATE OF LEROY C. KAPP, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Mary Ann D. Kapp, Executor

 

Young and Young

44 S. Main Street

P.O. Box 126

Manheim, PA 17545

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT T. BOYD A/K/A ROBERT THOMAS BOYD, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executors.

 

Richard Boyd, Executor

Robert T. Boyd, Jr., Executor

 

Michael J. Rostolsky, Esquire

8 North Queen Street, Suite 301

Lancaster, PA 17603

 

ESTATE OF SHARON L. SOLIE A/K/A SHARON LYNN SOLIE, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Laurie Jean Repella, Executrix

1410 Parsons Lane

Ambler, PA 19002

 

Thomas S. Long, Esquire

Long Brightbill

315 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF KENNETH I. BUFFENMEYER, late of Annville, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Larry A. Buffenmeyer, Co-Executor

Debra J. Burkholder, Co-Executor

 

John M. Zimmerman, Esquire

Zimmerman Law Office

466 Jonestown Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

Peggy M. Morcom, Esquire

Morcom Law, LLC

226  W Chocolate Ave

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF TERRY L. SCHAUER, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor/Executrix.

 

Tammy Lick, Executrix

184 Airport Rd

Fredericksburg, PA 17026

 

Thomas Schauer, Executor

605 Progress Ave

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Peggy M. Morcom, Esquire

Morcom Law, LLC

226  W Chocolate Ave

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT W. ARNOLD, late of Union Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Margaret F. Arnold, Executrix

345 Awol Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

Peggy M. Morcom, Esquire

Morcom Law, LLC

226  W Chocolate Ave

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF ERIC J. WENG, late of Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Corine Elizabeth Koser, Executrix

1452 S White Oak St

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Peggy M. Morcom, Esquire

Morcom Law, LLC

226  W Chocolate Ave

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF PAUL J. SHOWERS, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Dixie L. Showers, Executrix

179 Juniper Street

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Peggy M. Morcom, Esquire

Morcom Law, LLC

226  W Chocolate Ave

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF NANCY RUTH HAMMERS, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Kathy L. Hammers, Executrix

1809 Wexford Road

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Peggy M. Morcom, Esquire

Morcom Law, LLC

226  W Chocolate Ave

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF SHIRLEY A. FAUSNACHT A/K/A SHIRLEY ANN FAUSNACHT, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Kenneth B. Fausnacht, Executor

 

Anthony J. Fitzgibbons, Esquire

279 North Zinn’s Mill Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

717-279-8313

 

ESTATE OF LOIS S. WEAVER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, died 01/13/2021. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Debra K. Snyder, Executrix

 

George W. Porter, Esq.

909 E. Chocolate Ave.

Hershey, PA 17033

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF MARGARET M. HERR, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Linda P. Chidester, Executrix

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF BARBARA A. HEISEY, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Linda A. Blouch, Executrix

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF DORETTA LUCILLE ZEIDERS A/K/A LUCILLE ZEIDERS A/K/A D. LUCILLE ZEIDERS, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

William W. Zeiders, Executor

333 East Main Street

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Edward J. Coyle, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF LUCILLE T. ANDERSON, late of Millcreek Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Judith Waldron, Executor

 

Young and Young

44 S. Main Street

P.O. Box 126

Manheim, PA 17545

 

ESTATE OF EDWARD W. LAUB, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.


Robin Stryker, Executrix

 

John C. Stevens, Esquire

Gardner and Stevens, P.C.

109 West Main Street

Ephrata, PA 17522

 

ESTATE OF GERTRUDE M. TRAUTMAN, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Gary L. Trautman, Executor

 

Eric Schelin Rothermel, Esquire

May, May and Zimmerman, LLP

49 North Duke Street

Lancaster, PA 17602

 

ESTATE OF CARLA M. WEAVER A/K/A CARLA M. PETERSON, died January 7, 2021, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Eric Allen Peterson, Executor

 

Jordan D. Cunningham, Esquire

Cunningham, Chernicoff & Warshawsky, P.C.

2320 North Second Street

Harrisburg, PA 17110

 

ESTATE OF ANNA M. DUSMAN A/K/A ANNA MARY DUSMAN, date of death December 3, 2020, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


The Bryn Mawr Trust Company, Executor

1 E. Chocolate Ave., Suite 200

Hershey, PA 17033

 

Kendra A. Mohr, Esq.

Pannebaker & Mohr, P.C.

4000 Vine St., Suite 101

Middletown, PA 17057

 

ESTATE OF DOROTHY K. BICKSLER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Brynn McCurdy, Executrix

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF MAYS G. KURTZ, JR., late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executors.


Steve Kurtz, Executor

PO Box 591

Clear Spring, MD 21722

 

Susan K. Pierce, Executrix

2284 Cornwall Road,

Lebanon, Pa 17042

 

Paul W. Kilgore, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

ESTATE OF THOMAS A. LONG, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executors.


Thomas J. Long, Executor

1812 Center Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Michael D. Long, Executor

173 N. Fisher Street

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

Paul W. Kilgore, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

ESTATE OF GLENN E. WOLGEMUTH, late of the Township of Heidelberg, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Bonita J. Wolgemuth, Executor

505 Wedgewood Drive

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF RAMON G. MUSHENO A/K/A RAMON GANTZ MUSHENO, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.


Susan Carol, Executrix

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF ELVA L. LIVSEY, late of Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


John R. Boudman, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF HETTY WENGERT, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Kenneth W. Wengert, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF CHRISTINE M. HOPPLE, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

William C. Hopple, Executor

304 W. Queen Street

Annville, PA 17003

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA, 17067

 

ESTATE OF JANE K. BASHORE, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Deborah Davies, Co-Executor

 

Laura Abbondi, Co-Executor

 

Anthony J. Fitzgibbons, Esquire

279 North Zinn’s Mill Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

717-279-8313

 

ESTATE OF BRENDA E. FLORY, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Steven T. Flory, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF JOAN M. VARANO, late of Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Gary A. Varano, Executor

5523 Hazel Street

Harrisburg, PA 17112

 

Joseph M. Farrell, Esquire

201/203 South Railroad Street

P.O. Box 113

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF GLEN E. SWEINHART, late of Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Jason G. Sweinhart, Executor

96 Lewis Road

Annville, PA 17003

 

Joseph M. Farrell, Esquire

201/203 South Railroad Street

P.O. Box 113

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF EARL A. WOLFE, A/K/A EARL A. WOLFE, SR., late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Ronald G. Wolfe, Executor

1380 North State Route 934

Annville, PA 17003

 

Patrick M. Reb, Esquire

547 South 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF MARY F. REB, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Patrick M. Reb, Esquire, Executor

547 South 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Patrick M. Reb, Esquire

547 South 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF GLENN R. KERCHER, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executors.


Jeffrey Kercher, Executor

859 Water Edge Court

Lebanon, PA 17046

 

Gregory Kercher, Executor

P.O. Box 272

Pine Grove, PA 17963

 

Karen Kercher, Executor

1821 Carlton Court

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Patrick M. Reb, Esquire

547 South 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF RICHELLE J. KUSHMANICK, late of Union Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Antoinette Kushmanick Houser, Executor

2380 Quarry Rd.

Lebanon, PA 17046

 

Patrick M. Reb, Esquire

547 South 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

 

FICTITIOUS NAME

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, pursuant to the provisions of Act of Assembly No. 295, effective March 16, 1983, of the filing in the office of the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, an application for the conduct of a business in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania under the assumed or fictitious name, style or designation of Name: Lebanon Comprehensive Treatment Center, with its principal place of business at: 3030 Chestnut St, Lebanon, PA 17402. The names and addresses of all persons or entities owning or interested in said business is Advanced Treatment Systems, LLC, 6100 Tower Circle, Suite 1000, Franklin, TN 37067.

 

Dylan Lolya, Publication Team Leader

Vcorp Services, LLC

25 Robert Pitt Drive, Suite 204

Monsey, NY 10952

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

In Re: Lebanon County Tax Claim Bureau Real Estate Tax Sale-2019

 

Civil Action-Constitutional Law-Delinquent Taxes-Upset Tax Sale-Fourteenth Amendment-Due Process-Notice-Objections and Exceptions

 

The Lebanon County Tax Claim Bureau (“Bureau”) filed a Petition to Waive Personal Notice of a tax sale including a property owned in part by Kim Heng Tith (“Taxpayer”) on the basis that the Bureau had been unable make personal service of written notice of the impending sale upon Taxpayer despite several attempts by the Lebanon County Sheriff’s Department.  The Court granted the request for waiver of the requirement of personal notice of the sale.  Following the sale of the property and issuance of an Order by the Court on September 19, 2019 to publish notice of the sale to inform owners and lienholders of the sale and the right to file objections or exceptions to the sale, Taxpayer on November 5, 2019 filed Objections and Exceptions to the sale on the basis that she never received notice of the impending sale.

 

  1. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes a property owner’s right to notice prior to commencing with an upset tax sale.

 

  1. The government may hold citizens accountable for tax delinquency by taking their property.

 

  1. Due process requires the government to provide adequate notice of the impending taking before forcing a citizen to satisfy his or her debt by forfeiting property.

 

  1. Due process is satisfied when the government, before commencing with a tax sale, provides notice that reasonably is calculated under all circumstances to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and to afford them an opportunity to present their objections.

 

  1. The inquiry into whether adequate notice was provided must focus on whether the activities of the government complied with the requirements of the law, not on the alleged neglect of the owner, which often is present in some degree.

 

  1. The law requires three (3) different forms of notice to property owners prior to an upset tax sale: publication, posting and mailing.

 

  1. When a doubt is raised regarding receipt of a mailed notice, 72 P.S. § 5860.607(a) requires the government to put forth reasonable efforts to discover the whereabouts of and to provide notice to the record owners of the property that is to be exposed in an upset tax sale.

 

  1. The government’s responsibility has been summarized as determining the owners of the record and using ordinary, common sense business practices to ascertain the proper addresses where notice of the tax sale may be given.

 

  1. The government is not required personally to serve an owner at any address other than that of the subject property and is not required to telephone the owner or to conduct any extraordinary efforts to provide notice.

 

  1. The Bureau was in strict compliance with the notice requirements of the law and used reasonable efforts to find alternative addresses for the owners of the property where the Bureau checked records of other government offices after the first certified mailing had been returned as unclaimed and affixed address change requests to its mailings to be notified in the event that Taxpayer had moved and had provided a forwarding address, Taxpayer failed to notify the Bureau of any change of mailing address pertaining to the property and no evidence was presented that new addresses were available when the Bureau conducted its search.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. 2019-01453, Opinion by John C. Tylwalk, President Judge, May 20, 2020.

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL DIVISION

 

IN RE:  LEBANON COUNTY TAX              :           NO. 2019-01453

CLAIM BUREAU REAL ESTATE                 :

TAX SALE – 2019                                        :

 

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 20th day of May, 2020, upon consideration of the Objections and Exceptions to the Tax Sale of 24 Moravian Street, Lebanon, Pennsylvania submitted by Kim Heng Tith, the evidence adduced at the hearing conducted on February 6, 2020, and the Brief submitted by Kim Heng Tith in support of Objections and Exceptions, it is hereby Ordered that said Objections and Exceptions are OVERRULED as follows:

  1. The Motion to Set Aside Tax Sale is DENIED.
  2. The Prothonotary of Lebanon County is directed to enter a Decree of absolute confirmation of the Return of Court of the Lebanon County Tax Claim Bureau for the 2019 Real Estate Tax Sale for 24 Moravian Street, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

 

BY THE COURT:

 

_________________________, P.J.

JOHN C. TYLWALK

 

JCT/jah

 

Cc:  David R. Warner, Jr., Esquire/Buzgon Davis Law Offices/P. O. Box 49/525

            South Eighth Street/Lebanon, PA  17042

  1. Scot Feeman, Esquire/Feeman Law Offices/815 Cumberland Street, Suite

            200/Lebanon, PA  17042

     

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL DIVISION

 

IN RE:  LEBANON COUNTY TAX              :           NO. 2019-01453

CLAIM BUREAU REAL ESTATE                 :

TAX SALE – 2019                                        :

 

 

APPEARANCES:

 

DAVID R. WARNER, JR., ESQUIRE         FOR LEBANON COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUZGON DAVIS LAW OFFICES                          BUREAU

 

  1. SCOT FEEMAN, ESQUIRE FOR KIM HENG TITH

FEEMAN LAW OFFICES

 

OPINION, TYLWALK, P.J., MAY 20, 2020.

 

Kim Heng Tith (“Tith”), as partial owner of a property located at 24 Moravian Street in the City of Lebanon, requests the Court to set aside a tax sale of that property which occurred on September 9, 2019.  Tith objects on the basis that she never received notice of the impending sale and that the Lebanon County Tax Claim Bureau (“Bureau”) did not take sufficient steps to ensure that she received the required notification.  We conducted a hearing on the matter on February 6, 2020, a transcript of the hearing has been lodged, and Tith has filed a post-hearing Brief in support of her objection to the sale.  The Bureau has notified the Court that it would not be filing a Brief, but would rest on the evidence adduced at the hearing.

Our review of the record and the evidence presented at the hearing indicates that on August 27, 2019, the Bureau filed a Petition to Waive Personal Notice of a tax sale which was to be conducted on September 8, 2019.  The sale was to include the property located at 24 Moravian Street.  The Petition indicated that the sale had been advertised, but that the Bureau had been unable to make personal service of the written notice of the impending sale upon the owners of a number of the properties involved, including 24 Moravian Street, despite several attempts having been made by the Sheriff’s Department of Lebanon County.  For that reason, the Bureau requested that personal notice to the owners be waived pursuant to the Pennsylvania Real Estate Tax Sale Law, 72 P.S. §5860(a)(3).  On August 28, 2019, we issued an Order granting the Bureau’s request for waiver of the requirement of personal notice and permitting the Bureau to proceed with the sale of the properties indicated in the Petition.

The property located at 24 Moravian Street was sold at the September 9, 2019 tax sale and notice was sent to the last address the Bureau had on filed for the record owners.  On September 13, 2019, the Bureau filed a Return of Lebanon County Tax Claim Bureau to Court for the 2019 Tax Claim Sale.  On September 19, 2019, we issued an Order directing the Bureau to publish notice of the sale to inform owners and lienholders that the properties had been sold and to allow thirty days for the filing of objections or exceptions to the sale.

On November 5, 2019, Tith filed an Answer to Rule to Show Cause indicating that she did not reside at 24 Moravian Street and that the property was subject to an option to purchase agreement by which the current resident was responsible for the payment of real estate taxes.  Tith averred that she was only served with the Petition for confirmation of the sale on October 30, 2019 and that she had never had the opportunity to cure the past due taxes.  She asked that the sale be set aside due to the lack of service so that she could cure the nonpayment of taxes.  The Bureau filed a response to the Objections and Exceptions in which it indicated that numerous attempts had been made to serve Tith and that Tith’s Objections were untimely.

At the hearing, Belinda Spicer, Deputy Director of the Bureau, testified that this matter was turned over to the Bureau for the collection of delinquent 2017 real estate taxes in January 2018.  She explained that the record for the property indicated that there were three owners.  The Bureau sent a letter addressed to the three owners by first-class mail to notify them of the delinquency.   The first-class mailing was not returned and the Bureau received no response to that letter.  Another letter was sent via certified mail in February or March 2018.  That certified mailing was returned with a signature on May 4, 2018.   Both mailings were sent to the address identified on the tax records which, in this case, was 24 Moravian Street.   Spicer was unable to identify the signature on the return receipt card for the certified mailing.

In December 2018, the Bureau sent another first-class letter reminding the owners that the taxes remained unpaid and detailing how the case would proceed.  In May 2019, the Bureau sent separate certified mailings to each of the three owners of the property at the 24 Moravian Street address; however, all three notices were returned “unclaimed.”  (Exhibit “2”)  Spicer was advised by the post office that when a mailing is returned “unclaimed,” it means that the addressee resides there or that it is their known address, but they did not sign for the mail.  Spicer explained that the Bureau affixes address service requests on its mailings so that the post office would notify it of any change of address.  However, no notice of the owners’ address change was received from the post office.

Spicer went on to explain that in July 2019, the Bureau had the Sheriff’s Department attempt personal service on each of the three owners of the scheduled sale and post a Notice of Sale on the property.  The Bureau only had the 24 Moravian Street address for the owners.  The Notice was physically posted on the property, but personal service was never made on any individual despite attempts being made on three separate occasions.  In August 2019, the property was advertised in three different publications and a ten-day notice of sale was sent to the owners by first-class certificate of mailing.  These notices were never returned to the Department and none of the record owners ever contacted the Bureau prior to the sale.

After the sale, the Bureau sent out a notice informing the owners that the property had been purchased and giving them thirty days to object to the sale.  After this notice was returned to the Bureau, Spicer conducted an additional search and found two alternate addresses for two of the owners.  She mailed the notice a second and third time to both of the addresses.  (Exhibit “4”)  These notices were addressed to “Kim Tith at 242 Fox Road, Palmyra” and another was sent to “140 Woodridge Drive, Palmyra.”  (N.T. at 16-17)   Both of these notices were returned to the Bureau with signatures indicating their receipt on October 3 and 4 of 2019.

When no objections were filed within the thirty-day timeframe from the Order of September 16, 2019, the Bureau took the appropriate steps to finalize the Court Order.  At no point had the Bureau received any notice from the Lebanon County Tax Assessment Officer or any other office indicating that the legal and/or mailing address for this property had changed.  The first time the Bureau had contact with any of the owners was when Tith filed her Objections on November 5, 2019.

On cross-examination, Spicer clarified that after the return of the “unclaimed” certified mailing, she conducted an additional search of the Voter Registration and Prothonotary records and an online Google search, but found no other addresses for the owners.  After the sale had been held, she did find two new addresses for two of the owners – Tith’s residence at 242 Fox Road and her sister’s residence at 140 Woodridge Drive.  The post-sale notices were also sent to those addresses.

Tin Sek, Tith’s husband, also testified at the hearing.  He explained that his wife is one of the three owners of 24 Moravian Street.  He and his wife had lived at the 242 Fox Road address since 2016.  Sek explained that Tith speaks very little English.  He identified the notice of the sale that his wife had received on October 9, 2019 and identified his own signature on the return receipt.  Sek explained that this was the only notice that he or his wife had received about the tax delinquency and that they have the funds to cure the defect.  Tek explained that his wife’s cousin had been living at the property, but he and his wife had never been told of any of the notices or of the posting.

On cross-examination, Tek admitted that neither he nor his wife had every made any efforts to change the mailing address with the County to ensure that mail pertaining to 24 Moravian Street would go to their new address.  He and his wife had previously lived at the property, but renters had been living there after they moved out.   He did notify the post office of his change of address when they moved.

A property owner’s right to notice “prior to commencing with an upset tax sale [is] established pursuant to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and by the Law.” Rice v. Compro Distributing, Inc., 901 A.2d 570, 574 (Pa.Cmwlth.2006). The United States Supreme Court has held that due process is implicated in any taking of property for the collection of taxes, stating:

[p]eople must pay their taxes, and the government may hold citizens accountable for tax delinquency by taking their property. But before forcing a citizen to satisfy his debt by forfeiting his property, due process requires the government to provide adequate notice of the impending taking.

 

In re Consolidated Reports and Return by the Tax Claims Bureau of Northumberland County of Properties Exposed for Scheduled Sale September 19, 2012, 132 A.3d 637, 644 (Pa. Commw. 2016), citing Jones v. Flowers, 547 U.S. 220, 226, 126 S.Ct. 1708, 164 L.Ed.2d 415 (2006).

 

Due process is satisfied when the Bureau, before commencing with a tax sale, provide[s] notice reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them an opportunity to present their objections.  …  The notice provisions of the Law are designed to guard against deprivation of property without due process. … Because the government actor attempting to take property bears the constitutional duty to provide notice prior to a tax sale, our inquiry into whether adequate notice was provided must focus not on the alleged neglect of the owner, which is often present in some degree, but on whether the activities of the Bureau comply with the requirements of the [Law]. … However, even technical compliance with the statute may not always satisfy the demands of due process since the Law states the minimum effort to be done by a tax claim bureau. … Due process requires that the practicalities and peculiarities of the case are considered and given their due regard.

 

In re Consolidated Reports and Return by the Tax Claims Bureau of Northumberland County at 644 (citations omitted).

The notice requirements of the Real Estate Tax Law, 72 P.S. §§5860.101 – 5860.803 (“Law”) which are applicable to this matter provide, in part:

  • 5860.602. Notice of sale
  • At least thirty (30) days prior to any scheduled sale the bureau shall give notice thereof, not less than once in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county, if so many are published therein, and once in the legal journal, if any, designated by the court for the publication of legal notices. Such notice shall set forth (1) the purposes of such sale, (2) the time of such sale, (3) the place of such sale, (4) the terms of the sale including the approximate upset price, (5) the descriptions of the properties to be sold as stated in the claims entered and the name of the owner.

 

(e) In addition to such publications, similar notice of the sale shall also be given by the bureau as follows:

 

(1) At least thirty (30) days before the date of the sale, by United States certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested, postage prepaid, to each owner as defined by this act.

(2) If return receipt is not received from each owner pursuant to the provisions of clause (1), then, at least ten (10) days before the date of the sale, similar notice of the sale shall be given to each owner who failed to acknowledge the first notice by United States first class mail, proof of mailing, at his last known post office address by virtue of the knowledge and information possessed by the bureau, by the tax collector for the taxing district making the return and by the county office responsible for assessments and revisions of taxes. It shall be the duty of the bureau to determine the last post office address known to said collector and county assessment office.

 

(3) Each property scheduled for sale shall be posted at least ten (10) days prior to the sale.

 

72 P.S. §5860.602.

Thus, the Law requires three different forms of notice to property owners prior to an upset tax sale:  Publication, posting, and mail.  Famageltto v. County of Erie Tax Claim Bureau, 133 A.3d 337, 339 (Pa. Commw. 2016).  When a doubt is raised concerning the receipt of a mailed notice, Section 5860.607a requires tax claim bureaus to conduct reasonable efforts to discover the whereabouts of, and provide notice to, the record owners of property which are scheduled to be exposed to an upset tax sale:

 

 

  • 5860.607a. Additional notification efforts

(a) When any notification of a pending tax sale or a tax sale subject to court confirmation is required to be mailed to any owner, mortgagee, lienholder or other person or entity whose property interests are likely to be significantly affected by such tax sale, and such mailed notification is either returned without the required receipted personal signature of the addressee or under other circumstances raising a significant doubt as to the actual receipt of such notification by the named addressee or is not returned or acknowledged at all, then, before the tax sale can be conducted or confirmed, the bureau must exercise reasonable efforts to discover the whereabouts of such person or entity and notify him. The bureau’s efforts shall include, but not necessarily be restricted to, a search of current telephone directories for the county and of the dockets and indices of the county tax assessment offices, recorder of deeds office and prothonotary’s office, as well as contacts made to any apparent alternate address or telephone number which may have been written on or in the file pertinent to such property. When such reasonable efforts have been exhausted, regardless of whether or not the notification efforts have been successful, a notation shall be placed in the property file describing the efforts made and the results thereof, and the property may be rescheduled for sale or the sale may be confirmed as provided in this act.

 

  • The notification efforts required by subsection (a) shall be in addition to any other notice requirements imposed by this act.

 

72 P.S. §5860.607a.   This responsibility has been summarized as “determining the owners of record and then to use ordinary common sense business practices to ascertain proper addresses where notice of the tax sale may be given.”  Id., citing In re Tax Sale of Real Property Situated in Jefferson Township, 828 A.2d 475, 479 (Pa. Commw. 2003).

 

In the Famageltto case, the notice of the tax sale sent through certified mail was also returned to the Tax Bureau marked “unclaimed.”  The Bureau searched for alternative addresses for the owners in its internal records, the telephone directory, the County Tax Asessment Office records, the Prothonotary’s office and the local tax collector records.  An alternative address was found in the local telephone directory and notices were mailed to that address as well.  The Commonwealth Court found that these were reasonable notification efforts as required by Section 5860.607a.  The appellate court noted that the tax bureau was not required to personally serve an owner at any address other than that of the subject property and was not required to telephone the owner or to conduct any “extraordinary” efforts to provide notice.

In this case, we find that the Bureau was in strict compliance with the notice requirements of the statute and used reasonable efforts in its attempt to find alternate addresses for the owners of 24 Moravian Street.  Spicer testified that after the first certified mailing was returned “unclaimed,” she checked the records of the Assessment Office, the Prothonotary, and the Voter Registration Office.  In addition, the Bureau affixed address change requests to its mailings so that it would be notified in the event that an owner had moved and a postal forwarding order was in effect, or if an owner had designated another address at which they were receiving mail.  These efforts were reasonably calculated to locate the whereabouts of the owners of 24 Moravian Street and to give them notice of the tax delinquency and the impending tax sale.  The fact that Spicer was able to find new addresses for Tith and her sister after the sale does not diminish the Bureau’s pre-sale efforts at notification.  Tith and the other owners had failed to notify the Bureau of any change of mailing address pertaining to 24 Moravian Street and there was no evidence that the new addresses were available at the time Spicer conducted her search.

For these reasons, we will overrule Tith’s Objections and Exceptions, deny her request to set aside the tax sale, and will grant the Bureau’s request for confirmation of the sale.

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