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Peters Township Council Unanimously Votes 'No' on Crematory

Following three public hearings since March, council votes 7-0 against the highly contended crematory ordinance.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Township residents filed into council chambers Monday night to soon hear the verdict they collectively sought—crematory and funeral home at the former La-Z-Boy site along Route 19 denied.

The meeting convened with a deliberation by council on the crematory curative amendment, , challenging the validity of the zoning ordinance.

The challenger, Audia Group Investments, LLC, proposed an amendment to permit crematories as part of the definition of a funeral home. Chairman-at-large Robert Atkison reminded meeting attendees that more than nine public hours have been spent on the issue.

Council member David Ball commenced the motion toward a unanimous vote of 7-0 by noting that the proposed crematory’s “presence and location would be detrimental to township residents’ health and safety.”

Following the final vote, council member James Berquist spoke to residents on his final decision—he articulated the importance of public opinion, but was disappointed, in some instances, at the expressed negativity and in those who "intimidated township employees in the process."

He credited Tip O’Neill’s illustrious quote, "All politics is local," and said he wants public opinion, but that it has to be done in a less intimidating way.

"It's not necessary to be boorish," he said. “It’s not the way I would want Peters Township residents to act." Berquist commended resident Sam Hazo and others for their "good comments" throughout the public hearing process.

The crematory issue, which began in March, has come to a close.

Ted Taylor 4 June 28, 2011 at 11:15 AM
Thank You Councilman Berquist for standing up for the witnesses and Township employees that were intimidated during this Government Process. It was a travesty to watch at times, and very sad. As someone that was only in the audience most nights for these Hearings, I was also personally disappointed in how some expert witnesses were treated, especially The Township's Witness on Meterology & Pollution. This man was an expert in his field, and the way he was talked to at times was tremendously disrespectful.
Kathleen Tomamichel June 28, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Thank heavens our township council voted to protect its residents! As a resident of Sussex Way, I spent many sleepless nights wondering if a crematory were allowed, would I ever open my windows or sit on my deck on lovely summer nights, or would I continue with my vegetable garden if I thought mercury was deposited on the soil during rainstorms, or what health issues would I have as a result of emissions, and on and on with the wondering. Peace of mind is a wonderful thing. I thank the council members for their time and consideration . . . and their protection of our lovely township.
joe June 28, 2011 at 05:07 PM
As a lifelong member of this township I was sad to see the behaviour of our twp. residents. Hats off to the Audia Group for being a class act and not resorting to the tactics our twp. uses. Our twp staff should have egg on their face, it seems they needed someone to explain to them their own zoning laws. Our solicitor seems lost on this topic also. I also agree with Mr. Berquist in his after vote comments, but sometimes a vocal minority is wrong.
Roger June 29, 2011 at 01:23 AM
To have this project voted down, and the sports complex behind PV approved, leaves one perplexed. If there was anything that will create pollution, it will be the sports complex. Light towers 70 feet tall, an audio system mounted 35 feet off the ground, as well as a significant increase in traffic (foot and vehicle). Set aside the expense for a moment, and just look at the impact this complex will have on the surrounding area. Meanwhile, a building on Route 19 has been vacant (sorry, can't even count the Halloween group) for several years. It is gathering dust, deteriorating, and not generating any tax revenues for the township. If the funeral home and crematory is such a hazard, why does the Beinhower facility in Dormont continue to operate? This is one of many such facilities, so that data associated with the hazards are well known, if there are any. The protesters paint the same picture as the MS protesters. As admitted, all the hollering was in vain. The same is true of the MS protesters.
Tanya June 29, 2011 at 04:53 PM
It is my understanding that the Beinhauer crematory, located on West Liberty Avenue in Dormont, is in a municipality that permits crematories and inspects them annually.
joe June 29, 2011 at 09:22 PM
The twp. can't exclude crematories, all twps. must provide for them. Peters twp. was just confused about their own zoning. Im thinking the light industrial zoning that the twp. staff and concerned citizens would prefer, will cause us as a twp to have stand-alone crematories. If council would have worked harder with their staff they would have realized the zoning mistake from the get-go. They should realize that now they may get exactly what they dont want.
Roger June 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM
Tanya, I believe you are right about the location of the Beinhauer facility. Yes, they may have a permit, but that does not change the facts regarding health and safety. The Peters' argument centered around health and safety. Just because Dormont issues a permit does not change the two issues Peters used for excluding a similar facility. The point in my post is similar facilities exist elsewhere. Data from those facilities should be readily available. If the data show those facilities are not good, then Peters has an argument. If the data show those facilities are hazardous, then why aren't the local officials (e.g. Dormont) shutting them down? In considering the request, there is ample data to demonstrate the concern, either one way or the other. Are Dormont residents so much heartier that the health and safety concerns irrelevant for them, but Peters residents unable to deal with the same emissions? I have no dog in this fight, I don't know the applicants from a hole in the wall, so my thoughts are only concerned with how this went down. I'm greatly concerned that outside influences were involved in this decision, but have no evidence. There is something fishy about this decision that is not yet been explained.
Mike July 01, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Roger, you seemed to be concerned about outside influence but you keep referencing the Dormont facility. The people of Peters are very capable of making decisions that are in the best interest of the people of Peters. I just don't understand why people keep making the argument that Peters and Dormont are somehow the same or connected. Over 9 hours of testimony and countless hours of studies, tests, research, and discussions were done and the conclusion by a 7-0 vote was to not approve the special ordinance request. It appears that ample time and effort was given to the issue and the information that the council was provided was significant enough to vote unanimously against a crematory at that location. It’s time to move on. It sounds like you should organize a group of people that oppose the project at the sport complex and raise your concerns. We are all very fortunate to have the ability to voice our concerns and to have elected officials not just willing to listen but truly want to hear from all sides.
Mike July 01, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Oh, and by the way, regardless if a building is vacant or not, you still have to pay property taxes.

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