PT council OKs crematory ordinance

Published Jan 22, 2013 at 11:18 am (Updated Jan 22, 2013 at 11:18 am)

Following months of discussion, Peters Township council passed an amendment to a township ordinance Jan. 21 that stipulates future requests for crematories must be located in areas within the township that are zoned light-industrial

While only about 40 residents attended the public hearing, at times the room was past occupancy on previous occasions, including when the Audia Group proposed a funeral home with crematory at the site of the former La-Z-Boy building on Washington Road. The funeral home is operational while the issue concerning the crematory remains in litigation.

Township solicitor William Johnson said any action taken by council would have no impact on the litigation if decided in the Audia Group’s favor as the lawsuit was filed before the amendment was passed.

The public hearing was the second such hearing scheduled after input from a previous public hearing prompted changes in the original amendment.

Several residents spoke, including Povl Jorgensen of 302 Prestonwood Lane, McMurray, who told council he was pleased with the changes, including increasing the setback from schools, residences and day cares from the original 500 feet to 750 feet.

Janel Niedzwicki of Shoreline Drive in the Hidden Brook development, one of the plans closest to areas zoned LI, hence a potential location for future crematories, said the amendment was not perfect, but the only perfect ordinance regulating crematories would be one that banned such businesses. The state mandates zoning areas must be permitted to include most businesses, including crematories or adult books stores or similar establishments.

John Stoneberg of 104 Driftwood Drive, also in Hidden Brook, McMurray, said he wanted to see more specific details in the amendment including why 24 hours was listed as the time frame to fix any violations involving emissions.

Gavin Bieuyck, the township’s expert from Liberty Environmental Inc. in Reading, said the state gives an offender a week to correct any problem, and that he felt the 24 hour-time period was more than sufficient. Bieuyck said Peters Township was the first community in the United States to monitor for mercury emissions.

Stoneberg said he felt the proposed amendment, which was eventually passed unanimously, left “too much wiggle room.”

Roy Lanz of 109 Driftwood Drive asked if council had taken into consideration that parts of the areas proposed for future crematoriums ran close to Arrowhead Trail.

Councilman Robert Lewis said the trail was considered a transient area, unlike homes, schools or day cares.

There are currently no active applications for crematoriums, said Michael Silvestri, township manager. Lewis called the amendment “proactive.”

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