A group of Peters Township residents filled council chambers Monday night expressing concerns over an issue that came to a halt with council’s vote several months ago.
Council unanimously voted “no” on permitting a proposed crematory at its June 1 meeting. Now, Audia Group is suing the township for failing to permit the crematory as an accessory to the newly built funeral home on Route 19.
Cremation & Funeral Care by Danielle Andy Belusko opened last week as a full-service funeral home offering cremation services conducted off-site.
By law, council can allow crematories in parts of the township deemed industrial, which attracted many Hidden Brook residents to last night's meeting where those parcels lie.
Residents expressed concerns regarding air pollution, including the continued enjoyment of the nearby walking trails, children's safety playing at parks and going to schools, and home values.
“There is no scientific evidence linking crematories and air pollution,” Belusko told Patch Tuesday. “The information has been wrong from the beginning.”
Silvestri told residents Monday the best approach was to include crematories in the industrial area as a permitted use with additional special exceptions, such as one-acre parcels with a 750-foot setback—including emission control devices.
“Evidence is evidence,” Belusko said. “As a mom of three kids, I’ve made a life-long decision and commitment to my business, and I wouldn’t harm my kids or anyone else’s.
“I am all for the Clear Air Act, I exceed the Clear Air Act. No one is doing their research and there’s been a lot of misinformation.”
She confirmed “cremation” is in her business name because she's offering the service.
“It's being done off-site. Period,” she said. “80 percent of funeral homes in the world offer the services. It’s the future. It’s what people want."
Belusko also confirmed she did not buy the vacant Sears building next door and does not plan to.
“People are taking information they hear and running with it,” she said. “I shouldn’t have to fight. I’d be happy to talk to concerned residents. I’d love for them to call me—we could meet for coffee, for lunch."
As far as the next step, neither council or Belusko could confirm a time frame.
“Nothing has been done,” she said. “I’ve been honest and ethical, and now my focus is serving the Peters community.”