Court returns Garman preservation group’s appeal; corrections needed as time wanes

Errors in the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association’s appeal to win the Garman Theatre in court have the preservation group racing against a fast-ticking clock.

The group’s attorney, Bruce Manchester, last week filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking an expedited hearing to challenge a lower court’s decision that upheld the Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority’s approval of replacing the burned-out Garman Theatre with apartments.

But the Supreme Court’s Office of the Prothonotary informed Manchester that his notice of appeal was “defective.” In her letter, Deputy Prothonotary Amy Dreibelbis wrote that Manchester has until Jan. 14 to correct the problems.

The owner of the building, developer Ara Kervandjian, plans to build 32 apartments with the Garman space combined with the Hotel Do De and Cadillac Building properties, which all had been damaged by fires. Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler and a Commonwealth Court judge upheld the Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority’s decision.

The BHCA wants to restore the Garman and create a regional arts center.

That delay puts another hitch in an already-late appeal, as demolition of the Hotel Do De, next to the Garman, is nearly complete, and the Garman Theatre, next on the list, is projected to be torn down by the end of January.

Dreibelbis wrote that there were several flaws in the appeal. Specifically, Manchester had filed the wrong type of appeal and opposing parties must be served also with the filing and their information, including their attorneys, be included to the Prothonotary’s Office.

“This will serve as a notice of receipt of the Notice of Appeal that you have sent to this office,” Dreibelbis wrote. “The office has found your Notice of Appeal to be defective ...”

The letter provides a list of instructions as to what to include in the filing and how to file it, including a table of contents, citations, reference to orders, questions presented for review and references to legal authority. Dreibelbis also asked Manchester what relief his client is seeking.

While the appeal’s filing date was preserved, Dreibelbis noted that until the appeal is corrected, the docket will remain temporary.