Plymouth Township, PA

Hello,

I live in Plymouth Township, Pennsylvania. My parents received a notice of an upcoming zoning hearing. Only residents within 500 ft. of the properties requesting the variances were notifed which means about 6 homeowners in total and some senior citizens like my parents. Neither the mailed notice or the ad posted in the paper even mention a crematorium. A call to to the township building confirmed that cremation ovens were to be included in the site.

The variances listed below are from Article V which is the “A Residental” section of the zoning codes.

Variances requested by Carmenico Funeral Home and John K. Pudlinski, Jr., for the lots 3023 & 3025 Walton Rd.
Section 500 -To permit a funeral home
Section 502(D) -To permit a rear yard setback of 6.2 ft. where a minimum of 30 is required by law
Section 502(F) -To permit a 60% impervious coverage where it shall not exceed 25%
Section 502(G) -To permit a 40% green space, where it shall not be less than 75%
The properties are in the “A Residential” and “Campus Industrial” Zoning Districts.

This letter was received on December 3rd with the meeting scheduled for December 15th! We were stunned and horrified that we only just over week to act. Right across the street from the proposed site is an 80 home development. I went knocking on doors that Saturday and found that no one in that neighborhood had heard that such a thing was happening. I had a petition with me and got about 20 people to sign. I also had a flyer I quickly put together from some of the facts I found on your website.

After a review of township zoning codes we found that…
In Plymouth Township an undertaking business is only an allowed use in a district zoned “commercial” and even then only by special exception (Section 1000 K. 3)

Not only are the applicants trying to run a commercial business on a residental lot but they are running roughshod over most dimensional ordinances for residential lots basically paving it end to end.

We were just so heartsick that our township was allowing this and from calls to the township building finding out that “they have been working hard to make this happen.” Not to mention the suspicious timing right before the holidays and the omission of the word “crematory” in any of the notices. We feel they were trying to fly this low under the radar to pass it quietly without anyone knowing. I spread my flyers through a few other neighboring communities hoping for a miracle and that people would show up at the meeting on December 15th.

Maybe people called the township building after getting that flyer, we don’t really know, but we got word on Thursday night that the zoning hearing is being pushed back to January 19, 2015 becuse they were “reworking” the plans. That gives us a bit of breathing room so I thought I’d send this email to see if anyone in your group can give us some pointers on how to best direct our efforts. So far it has been only me and woman in the other neighborhood who have done all the work. She is a senior so she has been calling and I have been doing the flyer making and distribution. Since this is a zoning hearing I’m not sure how much they would care about the science of mercury vapors although that is obvioiusly the big problem for area residents.

(12-13-14)

Our first press. I realize now why you can’t believe what you read in the paper! Overall I guess it’s okay considering how nervous I was to talk to him. Some things aren’t exactly as I remember saying them. But at least more people will become aware.
The online petition is now over 300 and our “wet ink” door to door petition comes to around 200.
I’m sure we will get more interest after this hits the print newpaper this weekend.

http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20150109/plymouth-residents-voice-strong-opposition-to-proposed-funeral-home-and-crematorium

The variances as listed in the paper.

CARMENICO FUNERAL HOME, INC. (JOHN K. PUDLINSKI, JR.): On an application for Variances from Plymouth Township Zoning Ordinance No. 342, as amended, Article V, Sections 500, 502.D, 502.F, 502.G, Article XVII, Sections 1706.A, 1707.A, & 1707.B, & Article XIX, Section 1908.C. The Variances requested are as follows: To permit a funeral home and crematorium; to permit a rear yard setback of 6.2 feet, where a minimum of 30 feet is required; to permit 60% impervious coverage, where a maximum of 25% is required; to permit 40% green space, where a minimum of 75% is required; to eliminate the requirement for berming and buffering along public or private roads and property lines abutting residential zoning; to permit impervious surfaces closer than the required 4 feet from the side lot line. The properties are located at 3023 and 3025 Walton Road in the “A Residential” and “Campus Industrial” Zoning Districts. Any citizen of Plymouth Township or person of interest may attend the public hearing and have an opportunity to be heard. PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD David Conroy, Zoning Officer

Plymouth residents voice strong opposition to proposed funeral home and crematorium
By Carl Rotenberg, The Times Herald
POSTED: 01/09/15, 10:42 AM EST
PLYMOUTH >> A proposal for a funeral home and crematorium on Walton Road, the first funeral home to be built in Plymouth, has stirred strong opposition from residents.

no crematory walton

An online petition at change.org (http://bit.ly/No-Crematorium-Petition) has attracted more than 250 supporters since it was started on Jan. 5, said Melissa Rapine. On Facebook, the group page is called “No Crematorium on Walton.”

The three owners of Caramenico Funeral Home in Norristown have proposed building a 1,980-square-foot funeral home at 3023 and 3025 Walton Road. An existing two-story home on one property has two apartments with two garages located behind the home, said attorney George Ozorowski, representing Caramenico Funeral Home.

“The new one-story building would have a chapel, a lobby, restrooms and several office areas,” Ozorowski said. “The home on the property would remain as two apartments. They want to unite the two properties and build a funeral home. There are no funeral homes in the township, I’m told.”
The crematorium would be located in the first floor of one garage that has a second-floor space. That space would be converted to an apartment where one of the funeral home owners would live, he said.

Ozorowski said a scheduled Jan. 19 hearing before the Plymouth Zoning Hearing Board would likely be postponed to a February hearing because he has requested a postponement to refine construction plans. The two parcels are zoned A residential, and a small portion in the rear is zoned campus industrial, said Plymouth Zoning Officer David Conroy.

The funeral home owners are asking for a use variance to permit a funeral home and crematorium and variances to allow a rear-yard setback of 6.2 feet where 30 feet is required; to allow 60 percent impervious surface where a maximum of 25 percent impervious surface is allowed; to allow 40 percent green space where a minimum of 75 percent is required; to eliminate a zoning requirement for berms and buffering along public or private roads and property lines next to residential zones and to allow paved surfaces closer than the required, four foot buffer on the side lot line.

Resident Roseann Roth and several neighbors in the Arrowhead development have organized opposition to the crematorium and funeral home.

“The variances he wants are insane. He will be doing cremations for other funeral homes,” Roth said. “The smell from a crematorium is unbelievable. The funeral home will be right on Walton Road. We will have a hearse there 24/7.”

One of Roth’s chief objections is “because of the mercury that is going to be coming off it.”

“I’m only four houses away in the Arrowhead development,” said Roth, a resident of Treaty Road for 45 years. “We have day cares, learning centers and a school near there. It will affect little children with the mercury.”

The Plymouth Planning Agency held a Dec. 3 hearing on the site plans for the building addition but continued that hearing to Feb. 4 because there were questions about the buffering and berm requirements, Conroy said. Members of the planning agency are expected to review the proposed crematorium use, as well, Conroy said.

Plymouth council agreed to oppose the funeral home and crematorium at the Jan. 5 reorganization meeting and picked attorney Herbert Rubenstein to represent council’s objections at the zoning hearing when it is held, said Solicitor Thomas Speers in an e-mail.

Council will meet at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan 12, where Plymouth residents are expected to voice their opposition to the plans.

The online petition detailed the schools and preschools located within a 1/2-mile radius including Holy Rosary Catholic School, the Silver Springs Martin Luther School, Creative Child Care, Tot’s Day Care, Calvary Vision Church Daycare, Flanagan’s Preschool, Goddard Childcare and the Greater Plymouth Community Center and adjacent ball fields.

“Not only will this change increase traffic along an already congested route, the personal health impact of a crematory in a densely populated area should not be taken lightly. Crematories are not regulated by the (federal) Environmental Protection Agency as solid waste incinerators, and therefore there are no set maximum emissions of mercury for crematoriums,” the petition said. “Mercury is emitted from dental fillings of bodies that are burned. The effects of mercury vapor is well known and range from anxiety to appetite changes, to vision and hearing problems, to breathing problems and brain damage. Increased levels of mercury in children are linked with lower IQ.”

An online article by Paul Rahill, the president of Matthews International Cremation Division (MCD) in Orlando, Fla., disputed those claims.

Rahill said mercury dental fillings have become less popular, American crematorium equipment has increased the elimination of mercury emissions with large afterchambers and a British study of emissions from a heavily used crematorium concluded soil downwind from the crematorium was “deemed uncontaminated even after 112,000 cremations and 40 years of operation.”

The resident group has distributed more than 200 flyers in the half-mile radius of the proposed funeral home, said Plymouth resident Melissa Rapine.

“The psychological ‘ick’ factor. You would be enjoying yourself on your front lawn and there would be a crematorium down the street,” Rapine said. “A crematorium should not be placed in a residential area with schools nearby. There are health impacts from the chronic toxins that it emits. People would be living with it for decades so it would have a significant impact.”

The lifelong Plymouth resident said the funeral home would make her home less valuable in a resale.

“There would be a smaller pool of buyers willing to buy a home near a crematorium. We have distributed more than 200 leaflets in the neighborhoods,” Rapine said. “We are very concerned to have this close to our homes. Our homes could become less valuable.”

Rapine objected to the large zoning requests and their impact on her neighborhood.

“They want to put a high-impact business on a small lot. It is an incompatible land use,” she said, “If we prevail I would like the township to decide where a crematorium should go in the township.”

UPDATE

Hi,

I just wanted to let you know that I received word from the township manager that
the Caramenico Funeral Home officially withdrew their zoning appeal application
to build a funeral home and crematory in our community.

They had pushed back their applications 4 straight months and we were worried
it would drag out till May or beyond. I guess their attorney finally convinced
them to give up on this location.

Our township Council is drafting an ordinance for crematory use in our
township so that is another positive outcome. Hopefully this will prevent
another neighborhood in our township from being saddled with a crematory.

Thank you so much for all your help! I’ll keep you posted
on anything else that crops up.

Feeling relieved!

Mar 12, 2015 — Hello Supporters,

We have great news to report. The Caramenico Funeral Home & Crematory zoning application has been officially WITHDRAWN!

A big thank you to all of you who were concerned about our community and signed this petition. It was all of our voices united that made this outcome possible!

Additionally, Plymouth Township Council has agreed to draft an ordinance that will be effective in keeping Crematories away from residential neighborhoods, schools and daycares.

THANK YOU!

The text of this community’s petition is below:

Plymouth Township will be voting on a change to the zoning law in January’s meeting that would allow a funeral home and crematory to be placed directly across the street from the Arrowhead development on lots 3023 & 3025 Walton Road.
While this may seem like it does not affect you as a homeowner, it does. Not only will this change increase traffic along an already congested route, the personal health impact of a crematory in a densely populated area should not be taken lightly.

Crematories are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as solid waste incinerators, and therefore there are no set maximum emissions of mercury for crematoriums. Mercury is emitted from dental fillings of bodies that are burned. Mercury vapors are emitted and are airborne, and the effects of mercury vapor is well known and range from anxiety to appetite changes, to vision and hearing problems, to breathing problems and brain damage. Increased levels of mercury in children are linked with lower IQ, as well as increases in behavioral issues. Studies show rates of stillborn births are higher in areas close to crematories.

Along with the health risks, a crematory in proximity to our community will lower the resale value of our homes. In other states where crematories were built near residential areas, there is complaint of smells, noise and of operations around the clock, also hindering resale.

WE NEED YOUR HELP! The petition below is to voice our concerns to the zoning change.
As a community, we need to stop the change in the zoning by attending en masse all meetings pertaining to this issue. This application is scheduled to be heard on:

–April 2015 Zoning Hearing Meeting: Date still to be determined

Please spread the word as the impact is township-wide. When you look at the affected area within a scant half mile distance and the number of children that are potentially imperiled, it is outrageous.

-Holy Rosary Catholic School K-8 (next to Epiphany Church)

-Silver Springs Martin Luther School

-Creative Child Care

-Tot’s Day Care

-Calvary Vision Church Daycare

-Flanagan’s Preschool

-Goddard Childcare

-Plymouth Township Community Center & Fields

The township needs to realize that there is no place for a crematory in such a densely populated area. The sad truth is if we don’t care about what goes in our community, Council and the ZHB won’t care either!

I am signing as a resident /member of the community of Plymouth Township, PA. I strongly object to the variances requested by Carmenico Funeral Home and John K. Pudlinski, Jr., on lots 3023 & 3025 Walton Rd. I believe the proposed Carmenico Funeral Home & CREMATORY construction would introduce an incompatible land use by inserting a long-term source of potentially dangerous toxins into a residential area. The applicants seek to put a high impact commercial business on an “A Residential” lot.

A Penn State study found that homes near a human CREMATORY experience a decrease in resale values.
CREMATORIES pose a public health and safety hazard especially to those people living in close proximity.
I believe this application is not in the public interest and will result in unnecessary hardships to residents of our neighborhood.

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