August 31, 2011 —
The two warring sides to the issue of a proposed crematorium finally had their day in court. It may be the first of many since there are at least two appeals on the docket of the Pike County Court of Common Pleas.
The crematorium project is Milford funeral director Kevin Stroyan’s plan to build on property he owns on Route 6 less than a mile outside of Milford. The official name of Stroyan’s company is Pyre, Inc, which he owns along with Chris Brighton, a partner in the project.
Even though it is in a commercial district, the plant is surrounded by a small enclave of private residences in the Martin Development complex, comprised of six or seven houses.
These neighbors oppose the project even though it was approved by the Milford Township Planning Commission and by the Milford Township Board of Supervisors. Further, the township zoning officer issued a permit for the project to begin.
Because of the court appeals, the project is on hold.
The neighbors base their opposition on the fact that a crematorium is not listed in the township’s ordinances as a permitted use.
“We are saying that, since there is no definition of a crematorium in the ordinance, the permit must be considered a conditional use, since this is what the ordinance says in such instances,” said Andrew Hailstone, the neighbors’ attorney.
Objecting to that reasoning was Stroyan’s attorney, Blake Marles of Bethlehem, PA. “The crematorium is considered a part of the functioning of what a funeral director does,” he said.
Marles attempted to show that the neighbor’s case was frivolous and should never have been presented in the first place.
However, Hailstone argued that the crematorium is owned by Pyre, Inc. even though its principal owner is Stroyan; therefore, the stand-alone crematorium is not considered to be part of a funeral operation and should be required to obtain a conditional use permit. If Judge Joseph Kameen agrees with Marles that the township was right in granting a permitted use permit, that appeal will be dismissed.
A conditional use demands a public hearing and a different process than a permitted use.
A second appeal, yet to be heard, centers on the environmental damage that could result from operation of the crematorium. This was the argument that was dismissed by the township’s zoning hearing board a few weeks ago.
The second item taken up in this court session was the awarding to Stroyan of a bond by the opponents that would cover his loses should he win the case. Judge Kameen will determine whether a bond should be imposed and what the bond amount would be. If Stroyan loses, the bond will be returned to the opponents.
The judge said that he would rule on the case after giving Hailstone seven days to review a brief, which was presented by Marles.
It was not clear when the second appeal would be taken up by the court.