Phase 2 of cemetery expansion gets OK from Ross commissioners - North Journal

Phase 2 of cemetery expansion gets OK from Ross commissioners

Thursday, March 26, 2020 | 8:56 AM

Plans to expand North Side Catholic Cemetery have received the go-ahead from Ross Township commissioners.

Cemetery officials say they need to expand because they are running out of space and think it is important to provide township residents with a nearby place to bury family members. The project is the second phase of the planned expansion of the facility along Cemetery Lane.

In testimony before the commissioners, an attorney representing several residents who object to the expansion said the significant amount of earth-moving proposed could destabilize an already slide-prone hillside and pose a risk to nearby waterways if it fails. Those who object said their position is supported by the findings of an engineer they hired to review the plans.

Debbie Nolan of West View Avenue questioned the project’s risks versus the benefits to residents.

“The only benefit I can see is more burial spaces,” she said. “But they have plenty of burial space there.”

Nolan said proceeding with the project could cause a “catastrophic landslide.”

She maintains that if a landslide occurs, debris would block off the Nelson Run tributary, which would cause Girty’s Run to flood.

“That would be a huge risk to all of our citizens and the people who go through here,” she said. “And when there is a landslide, who is going to be responsible for the cleanup?”

The township’s engineer has testified that the project’s design meets all state and local requirements necessary to prevent what the objectors say might happen. Project engineers also say all the concerns raised about the stability of the hillside have been addressed.

To proceed with the project, the board had to vote on two separate measures. Both were approved by the same 6-3 vote.

The first measure granted a waiver to allow the cemetery to proceed with grading work on the slope being developed for burial sites. The second measure approved the cemetery’s final site plan.

Voting against both measures were commissioners Jeremy Shaffer, Jack Betkowski and William McKellar.

Shaffer said he voted against approving the project because he feels “strongly about protecting our steep slopes.

“I don’t think we should be granting waivers unless there is a large benefit,” he said “I just don’t see that here.”

Commission President Steve Korbel said he supports the project because it meets all the requirements needed for approval.

“Our engineer reviewed and recommend that the waiver be granted,” he said. “I will also say that one of my concerns that was addressed is the landscaping plan, which shows 80 trees being replanted in order to stabilize (the hillside) further and beautify the area, which I think is a positive.”