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Lack of crematory fails to hinder Peters funeral home

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 12:05 a.m.

Despite operating without an on-site crematory they had hoped for, directors of a Peters funeral home say their business enjoyed success in its first six months.

Cremation and Funeral Care by Danielle Andy Belusko opened in March amid public backlash regarding the owner's request to perform cremations at the Washington Road location. Since then, it has served nearly 50 families.

“We've been very blessed. We're doing exactly what we wanted to do — serve families and their loved ones,” said Belusko, the home's supervisor.

The township's zoning law does not allow for a crematory at the location. Last year, Belusko and Audia Group Investments filed a lawsuit seeking permission to open a crematory as an added component to the funeral home. That suit is pending in Washington County Court.

Belusko said she has not given the matter any thought since the funeral home opened.

“Our focus is on the families. (The crematory's) the last thing on our minds,” she said. “The bottom line is our intention never was to fight. There was a lot of misinformation, and it got way out of hand.”

In the weeks leading up to the home's opening, some neighbors publicly expressed concern about emissions of heat, odors and mercury from the proposed crematory. Several filed a land-use appeal related to the funeral home, claiming flaws with a parking variance.

That lawsuit moved to Commonwealth Court. Lawyers expect to resume oral arguments next month.

Peters allows crematories by special section in areas zoned as light industrial. Council is considering specific standards that crematories must meet, including setback requirements and air emission rates.

Changes would not affect Belusko's business because it is in a commercial district.

Jessica Koth, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association, said the amount of business the funeral home is getting is typical for a new establishment. Members of the association average 112 funerals a year, or about nine a month.

“They're certainly still trying to build a reputation in the community and name recognition,” she said of businesses that are less than a year old.

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948or rweaver@tribweb.com.

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