September 14, 2011 —
Things look dark for the neighbors of a proposed crematorium on Route 6 outside of Milford. After a hearing last week, Pike County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph Kameen ruled that the case against the crematorium, presented by its neighbors, was “frivolous” and that they must post a bond in the amount of $232,500 if they wish to continue their case before a higher court.
The bond’s purpose is to protect the appellee, Kevin Stroyan, from a loss to his business during a lengthy appeal process. If he wins, he will receive the bond. If he loses, the bond is returned to the appellants.
If the group cannot meet the demand of the bond, their case would be dismissed, Kameen said.
The neighbors may appeal to the next highest state court—The Commonwealth Court—but they have not yet decided.
“We have 30 days to make up our minds,” said Valeria Martin, one of the opposition leaders. “We need to get the group together and decide. We feel that our case is far from frivolous. We also feel that the judge missed some important points. We feel that the deck is stacked against us. No matter how hard you try, you’re going to come up against the same wall in Pike County.”
In stating that the case was frivolous, Kameen dismissed the argument presented by the neighbors of the crematorium that the Milford Township Board and the Board of Appeals should have ruled the project a conditional use rather than a permitted use.
A conditional use demands a public hearing while a permitted use does not.
Their case, presented to the court by attorney Andrew Hailstone, hinged upon the argument that a crematorium should not be equated to the business of an undertaker. Since there is no provision in the township ordinances for a crematorium, the project should automatically fall under the provisions of a conditional use, which requires notification of neighbors and a public hearing—steps that were not taken in the approval process.
In determining the amount of the bond, the court looks at the cost of construction of the building, the facilities and equipment and the miscellaneous costs related to improvement of the property, the judge said.
“Based on those calculations of increased cost of the construction and lost profit, the net loss of the developer over that two-year period would be $232,500,” the judge said.
“This is another example of how the Milford elite always wins,” said Ed Borner, a member of the opposition and the son of Bill Borner, who lives near the site.