Zoning Board Approves Pruss Hill Road Cemetery
Pruss Hill Road property owner Charles Merritt (at top right) talks with Khair Inc. representatives Lisa Thomas and Ahmed Bakram (at top left) about the organization’s cemetery plans
LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – The proposed opening of a cemetery on a portion of a 34-acre parcel at the south side of Pruss Hill Road, between North Pleasant View and Schaffer roads, was unanimously approved Tuesday (March 15, 2022) by the Lower Pottsgrove Zoning Hearing Board.
In granting a special exception for the project, though, the board made a conditional requirement intended to reduce potential traffic problems. Funeral processions into the cemetery, which on occasion may be as lengthy as 30 vehicles, must proceed toward it from the west end of Pruss Hill at North Pleasant View.
The condition lasts only as long as the Pruss Hill Road bridge is limited to a single lane of traffic, board Solicitor Matthew Hovey noted. Once the bridge is replaced, which is anticipated later this year, or two-way traffic otherwise returns there, the condition disappears. When that happens, funeral traffic can approach the cemetery from either North Pleasant View, or Rupert Road on its east side.
The property (above) is being bought by Khair Inc., a community organization in Oaks PA that initially intends to operate the cemetery on about 12-1/2 acres of the parcel. It will cater to those of the Muslim faith, Khair representative Ahmed Bakram said. The rest of the land will remain unimproved but available for potential expansion.
“It’s a great place for a cemetery,” landscape architect and expert witness Lisa Thomas of the Glackin Thomas Panzak firm in Paoli testified about the site. “It’s got nice topography, it’s visually open, and it’s a low-impact development,” she said.
Increased traffic the cemetery might attract was a primary concern of several neighboring Pruss Hill Road property owners, who claimed the state-owned highway becomes “a speedway” for commuter vehicles on weekdays. Dozens of drivers use Bleim and North Pruss Hill roads daily to travel from eastern Berks County areas to the U.S. Route 422 interchange at Sanatoga.
“It’s a real issue there,” Pruss Hill Road resident Charles Merritt said. He, his wife Julie, and others testifying at the hearing reported the fast-moving flow of traffic caused them to wait for long periods just to exit their driveways. “The traffic’s just unbelievable,” James Sierzega, a homeowner on nearby Snell Road, agreed.
Two persons at the hearing said they favored the cemetery use far more than the possibility of “another townhouse development,” as Snell Road resident Monica Ranieri put it. The property is zoned R-1 residential, and was previously approved by the township for home construction. It never occurred.
Parking was a board concern. Thomas reported the cemetery’s 400-foot-long entrance could accommodate about 40 cars parked on its grassy shoulders, and drivers could use an 80-foot-wide cul-de-sac to turn around and exit. Board members stipulated no parking would be allowed on Pruss Hill Road.
In response to zoning board questions, Khair representatives said they had no plans to build a mosque there, but may have future need of an office on the grounds.
Photos by The Posts