Planning Commission Votes to Deny Crematory, Zoning Ordinance Amendment

Residents turn out en masse to voice opposition.

Peters Township Planning Commission voted 5-0 to send a recommendation to the Zoning Hearing Board to deny a special exemption that would allow for a crematory at 3287 Washington Road.

More than 100 residents turned out Thursday night to voice their opposition to the proposed crematory and funeral home at the former La-Z-Boy site along Route 19. Commission Chairman Jeff Mills acknowledged this as a “serious issue to the community.”

The commission also voted 5-0 on a motion to deny a zoning ordinance amendment that would allow crematories to operate as an accessory use to a funeral home in C-1 and C-2 zoning districts. Current zoning allows for funeral homes to operate, but does not include provisions for the operation of a crematory.

Audia Group Investments, LLC brought the requests before the commission on behalf of applicant Danielle Belusko, a licensed funeral director with 20 years of experience. Belusko is moving to the township and plans to open a full-service funeral home that includes on-site cremation. 

Belusko addressed the commission and the residents about her interest in providing, what she calls, a valuable service to the residents of Peters Township.

“What I’m going to bring to this township is very positive,” said Belusko. The married mother of three young children said she would not propose any business that would put her children or any other township children in harm’s way.

She spoke on the added service on-site cremation offers in that loved ones are not transported to a secondary location for cremation. Also, with many people choosing both a traditional viewing and cremation, it’s beneficial for a funeral home to offer both services. Nearly 40 percent of all deaths in the U.S. result in cremation over traditional burial, and that number is expected to grow.

Resident Sam Hazo spoke on behalf of hundreds of residents who are strongly opposed to having a crematory anywhere in the township, especially near residential areas. Citing a study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University as well as other statistics, Hazo brought up numerous concerns of having a crematory in the township, including decreasing property values near the site, noise from the furnace, property aesthetics and potential air quality issues.

However, the main concern seemed to be the possibility of mercury exposure. Mercury can be released into the air when cremation is performed on a body with mercury amalgam dental fillings.

The less contentious issue of granting a parking/buffer variance for the site was recommended for approval, though Chairman Mills dissented. The two-story, 26,000-square-foot building was built in 1968 and currently has 40 parking spaces. The building has an inherent hardship for parking due to the size of the building and the lot.

Belusko is proposing to use only 10,190 square feet of the facility: 7,500 square feet for general funeral home use and 2,690 for storage and garages. A formula that generates the number of required parking spaces calls for 44 spaces, however Belusko is proposing 63 if the variances are granted.

The Zoning Hearing Board will discuss the special exemption request for a crematory as well as the parking/buffer variances at its meeting Tuesday, March 15. Residents are invited to attend this meeting.

Even if the plan for a crematory at the 3287 Washington Road site is ultimately rejected, Belusko says she will still move forward with her plan to open a funeral home.

joe March 17, 2011 at 05:08 PM
Lets see mike, Im glad you gave me your opinion. I dont know if I have ever met someone who is an expert in all these areas that you are. Lets list them chemicals,realestate,psychology, human behavior and business. That is impressive thanks for clearing that all up for the people like me who cant think. And for the Beinhaure comment they must be really scared of this little girl !!!!!
Mike March 17, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Joe, don't need to be an expert in any of the areas listed. Wait, I thought I said something like regardless of the experts... Well anyway, you did a good job in your response of changing the hearts and minds of us Peters residents. Keep up th good work and if you’re on Ms Beluskos payroll you should ask for a raise. Your comments and support of this little girl, with daddy's deep pockets, have us all just feeling horrible for her. How will she ever spend her Daddy's money if we don't let her in our township? Maybe she can set up shop in Upper St. Clair....NOPE, they don't want her either, we all must be blinded by the Beinhauer Group. It couldn't possibly be because of chemicals, real-estate, psychology, human behavior and business.
joe March 17, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Mike you are my go to guy when i need facts ! so give me a few, is there mercury in florescent light bulbs ? you know the kind they want us to use now ? How safe are the chemicals everyone puts on lawns ? this has been banned in other areas. What about the twp sewage plant that is in this circle of doom? Have they had any d.e.p. issues ? Did you read all of twp staff reports ? even the one where they viewed a creamation ? Your personal attack on this person and her family will really help also. Stick to the facts, The twp council will pass this to the court system to decide , they need to stick to the facts. And if you are a member of bakerys against crematorys you should be proud of that.
Mike March 17, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Okay let’s run through your list: Light bulbs - I think we can legally choose what to buy and not buy but to play along with you. If there is mercury in light bulbs then legally we should make an exception to our current ordinance to allow crematories and if some people choose to apply chemicals to their lawns then we should change our current laws so that more chemicals enter our environment and since we have a sewage plant, let’s make an exception for the little girl so our property values decrease and if we could only get the chance to view a cremation then maybe we will all overcome our psychological issues. And let’s keep the emotions out of the argument and let "just the facts" drive our decisions and finally the 100+ people who attended the meeting and the close to 1000 people that signed the petition must be an organized group of bakeries against crematories. Sometimes, in democracies, the people get to make decisions irrelevant of the facts but guess what Joe; we would love to have this settled in the court system, I only hope our township zoning board agrees with you and votes NO next week and lets the court system decide.
joe March 17, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Mike there are over 20 thousand reidents in our twp your 1 thousand is not the majority. My point which you overlooked is we have worse chemicals in our lifes every day, pick on all of them. Be consistent. If you are trying to say as a group its a enviroment thing where have you been with the other issues. quick call the Beinhaure attorney and get an answer
Mike March 17, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I didn't overlook your point like you did mine in my original comment. I pointed out the financial impact and never made this about chemicals or the envirnment...YOU did. Go back and read. My comments to YOUR enviromental list are to point out that to suggest we should legally make changes to allow for more chemicals simply because we allow certain chemcials now is not a strong legal argument. Besides, for me its about money and what I think is simple business sense, somehow you got onto lightbulbs, lawn chemcials, sewage plants, etc.. Don't know the Beinhaure's or their attorney but as a business man they have to be laughing all the way to the bank. If you prefer to make this a ballot issue, all the better. I would support leeting the people of Peters vote on the issue versus a legal battle.
joe March 17, 2011 at 09:11 PM
I agree that all chemicals are bad but why is the anti group picking 1 area and not all ? The B family is not laughing they are shaking in their boots . If they arent then why are they there. I appreciate your passion on any topic but i must end this give and take. Thanks I know sadly that your opinion and my opinion wont be heard and the court will decide.
Ae Br March 18, 2011 at 07:57 AM
I am not going to slam Ms. Belusko, because I do not know her and that would be very unfair of me, she like everyone else in the world is just trying to make a living; I just simply wish she wasn't trying to make a living 2 miles from my house, my daugthers school, and the playground she plays at. Having a 5 year old with asthma is scary enough....adding these pollutants to the air around her makes it even more scary. She wasn't asked to be born with a chronic lung condition. Please don't make it worse for her. And before someone comes at me negatively (presumably Joe), I am a RN, well educated and a concerned mom. I have done a lot of research (not just by the website I posted below, that is simply a easy quick read for others who do not have time to research). I take many precautions for my daughters health, we don't spray our lawn, we grow our own vegetables, I use all fragrance free laundry items as well as bath items and I clean the house with organic cleaning products. On hot humid days, she can't go outside and play with her friends like a 5 year old should, she has to stay in where it is cool. If I take her to the movies on days like this, the simple walk from the car to the building affects her. Last summer she only played outside 10 times, how sad for her. It breaks my heart that after all the precautions I take, that someone can come in and potentially harm my child. http://www.ees.ufl.edu/homepp/cywu/ENV4121/Project2001/Crematory/Pollutants.htm
Ae Br March 18, 2011 at 10:20 AM
Oh and one more thing....on the comment re: Beinhauer's not caring about the Dormont residents.... First let me say I am NO WAY connected to them, I just don't like to see anyone put down because of false info. Do a little research on Dormont and Beinhauer's. Beinhauer's opened their crematory in 1921. In the year of 1921 the total area of Dormont was just less than one square mile. They did not open their first school until 1965. The crematory was already established by the time people started moving to Dormont, there for it was their CHOICE to live by a crematory, as it is still their choice to live by it. If the crematory passes the rsidents of Peters are being robbed of the choice. You can also look at the data collected in a 2010 census. The total land in Dormont is 0.7 sq. mi. with a population of 8,593....and again it continues to be their choice to move into a area with a established crematory. The total land in Peters is 19.6 sq. mi. with a population of 17,566....thats a lot of people being affeced without a choice!
joe March 18, 2011 at 10:45 AM
Ae Br Just because you dont use lawn chemicals im sure your neighbors do and thats a shame also ,whY not stand up to that ? If you really wanted to stick to the facts dont post that web-site. the key word you used is potentially. Cant be proved. Your research is great now search other crematory locationsAND SEE HOW CHILDRENS HOSPITAL CHOSE THAT LOCATION WITH CREMATORIES CLOSE TO IT.
Ae Br March 18, 2011 at 11:06 AM
Let me clarify my use of the word potentially. I used it in the sense that it will potentially cause harm because we don't know yet if it will go in. If it was a definite thing I would have said it would cause harm. (sorry about the use of the word, I was not an english major) And as far as Childrens Hospital.... comparing it to a residential property is like comparing apples to oranges. The average hospital stay is less than 1 month, and the children are NOT outside playing. The are in a state of the art facility with the best possibly air purification system. MY CHILD is out playing in the yard and will be exposed everyday! You can't even compare the two.
joe March 18, 2011 at 02:29 PM
So the hospital air handling systems use bottled air ? If we all stay inside we are not exposed to any air particles ? interesting
Mike March 18, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Joe you just don't seem to get it, if there were a hospital or a bakery or a chem lawn company that decided to challenge PETERS current ordinanaces and we the people of PETERS TOWNSHIP decided we did not want to make a special exception because of concerns to property values or air quality or noise or traffic or psychological BS then guess what, we would do what we could to stop those business as well. Have you ever heard the phrase "not in my neighborhood". She can buy some land close to Childrens Hospital and make as much money as she wants.
joe March 18, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Sorry mike I didnt know YOU were speaking for all of peters township. Now that I know that who could challenge your complete authority ?
Mike March 18, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Joe where are all your supporters? Why haven't the People for Crematories shown up for any of the meetings? Where is the vote YES for Belusko group? What was your response to my concern about property values? That’s right you don’t have an answer, but you prefer to talk about lawn chemicals or light bulbs. Maybe you can educate us on the latest news in Ohio or WV. In the end we have a democratic system to handle these disputes and if the people of PETERS, not children’s hospital or Dormont decide we don't want a crematory then we should be allowed to say NO thanks. Oh, and yes feel free to check with me if you want to know what ALL of Peters's opinions are because clearly your not smart enough to know better.
joe March 18, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Mike You did prove a point and that is When someone has a different view than all of your peters twp people you brush them off because you are better than them ! Im obviously not nearly as smart as you and all the people that want you to speak for them. The law will do what is correct. A group of 1000 is not above the law. But im sure you are smarter than all. Bye will not return for more fun. YOU SAID IT ALL......
Mike March 18, 2011 at 04:52 PM
I'll miss you Joe, Still waiting for your comments on property values.
joe March 18, 2011 at 05:57 PM
thanks mike its nice to be missed.......
Ae Br March 19, 2011 at 07:54 AM
Let me guess Anna....like Joe, you are not a resident of Peters and are probably either on Ms. Belusko's payroll , a close childhood friend or family.....those seem to be the only supports. Or are you simply supporting her putting the crematory in our community so she doesn't try your community next?
Matt March 19, 2011 at 09:21 AM
The following was pulled directly from the Washington Penn Plastics Co. website....the Andy Family Business: (listed in their code of ethics) Justice Strictly adhering to laws and regulations Respect Recognizing the dignity and worth of others, and our dependence on them in the pursuit of our endeavors I guess not everyone from the family follows the same code of ethics. Justice....hummmm she is fighting to have the ordnance changed, that doesn't sound like "Strictly adhering to laws and regulations" Respect....she clearly does not respect the residents of Peters as we have voiced our opinion and concern and she continues to fight to have the ordnance changed. "Recognizing the worth of others"....really????? you are putting us at risk....what is our worth?
joe March 19, 2011 at 11:13 AM
Just to set the record straight, Property values? now, you have not shown me any facts with anything just fear but property values? Havnt seen a realtor argue this point and i mean a real realtor, and dont tell me the penn st. study read it. Im thinking it may encourage the property to the north of this one to spruce up the place a little. and for matt he needs to realize there is no law written in this twp for a crematory, they are within their rights. If there was an existing law we wouldnt be talking about this. Sorry mike i couldnt help myself, One last thing Why is everyone pulling her family into this ? can you all be that shallow or jealous ?
Matt March 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Just incase you missed something, go back and read the article in the almanac......it states the Audia group and Rod and Danielle Belusko are requesting to put the funeral home/crematory in place.....well guess what? The Audia group is her family! So we are not bringing her family into this......they brought themselves into this!
joe March 19, 2011 at 04:03 PM
you know what i was thinking, her family is with her .but people are acting like she is the only person who ever had successful parents. Not fair. That is where the jealous thing comes into play. Kind of amusing that thats what bothers you the most MATT.
joe March 19, 2011 at 04:19 PM
Just wondering how many people would admit to being a member of ptraco ? after reading the website info and seeing its blatant spin ? Then add onto that its personel attacks on twp staff ? Im wondering if anyone would admit it other than the guy who wrote it ? Buddy!!!!
Mike March 19, 2011 at 10:21 PM
Joe, let’s just say I’m not surprised your back? I didn't think you were a man of your word. I also see your now speaking for the family. So are you ready to admit that you’re a Belusko? I also checked out PTRACO, looks more like a website, no membership information provided? So I hear when the request to change the current ordinance is denied, the Belusko's will slap a lawsuit against their potential customers (tax payers of Peters). Sounds like a solid business plan, this strategy should work out well. Well if the crematory business doesn’t work out then maybe she could turn the building into a school and she could provide a how to start a business class.
joe March 19, 2011 at 10:57 PM
Mike you misunderstood once again i was only gone for the day. Im a lifelong resident of this twp. You dont give me much credit i have a lot more to say. You do need to watch the details. And yes you are correct about ptaaco, im wondering who would support bakerybarn tactics ? Many years ago when the twp did its comprehensive land use plan to determine zoning, they worked long and hard with groups of staff and watchdog types and somehow forgot to zone for crematory. Now the residents are wondering why ? They forgot ! This is not the only issue they have no zoning for. They got most of them but dont have coverage for a few. THE Law is forcing them to provide for it now. I would not even pay attention to this issue if it was not for that zoning misstep. I unlike you only speak for myself, I dont like to see anyone slandered for no reason. I think council will run from this issue just to save face. The court will decide and i have seen the twp sued before. And we all have seen our solicitor in action. And when this is all said and done we will see who gets the business education.
joe April 14, 2011 at 07:58 PM
M ? They did not add your comment.
Andrea Bosco (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Just to be clear, we do not have the ability to "add" comments; I'm not sure where M's comment went?
joe April 15, 2011 at 12:56 AM
Andrea, if you did read m's comment you know why it was not posted
Andrea Bosco (Editor) April 15, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Joe, I did read M's comment and it disappeared shortly after. Must have been deleted.


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