NORTH MIDDLETON TOWNSHIP—An equity action and an injunction were filed last week against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Waggoners Gap Road LLC, a Pennsylvania Limited Liability Company, said Carlisle attorney Marcus McKnight III.
The equity action will ask a county judge to require the commission to provide and fund an adequate public access road off Route 74 to the Meeting House Springs Cemetery in North Middleton Township, and compel adjoining property owners to grant an easement to allow the access.
The right-of-way that is being sought by the church and cemetery is 50 feet wide and is the shortest direct route, McKnight said, adding that the route should have a macadam cart way for vehicles to safely pass each other going in opposite directions.
McKnight, the cemetery association’s representative throughout the association’s continued effort to secure direct access, said while the equity action would compel adjoining property owners to grant an easement to allow access to the cemetery, the single property owner, the George Family, is all for the desired right-of-way being sought by the cemetery association.
McKnight added that one of the defendants in the equity action suit, Waggoners Gap Road LLC, property owners between Route 74 and the cemetery, is also in favor of the right-of-way.
The injunction filed alongside the equity action Wednesday “requests an Order of Court providing a preliminary injunction to require the restoration of the (cemetery’s) right-of-way until an agreement is reached to either restore the traditional right-of-way known as Meeting House Road or by entering into an agreement for an alternative right-of-way through the property of Waggoners Gap Road LLC, to Pa. Route 74,” according to court documents.
Meeting House Springs Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Cumberland County and was the original site of the First Presbyterian Church.
The church is now located in the center of Carlisle.
The cemetery currently was accessible via the Meeting House Road underpass tunnel in the borough of Carlisle.
However, that direct source of access changed around Aug. 15 when the turnpike commission elected to carry out its decision to eliminate the overpass crossing Meeting House Road as part of its formulated plan to widen and extend the turnpike in Cumberland County, court documents stated.
The underpass road was covered in fill and dirt, cutting off direct access to the Carlisle borough from the cemetery.
The commission, without the knowledge or consent of the association, separately filed paperwork to install a right-of-way gravel driveway off Route 74, McKnight said. He explained how this action by the commission falls short of meeting an old requirement to provide proper access to the cemetery.
He said the gravel driveway does not provide adequate public access because it is only wide enough for one vehicle and is not designed for heavy equipment.
Meeting House Springs Cemetery currently is an active burial ground, hosting period burials, and has also been a site in the past in which the cemetery association has hosted special services on select holidays.
McKnight said he should know within a week of the equity action suit being filed if the cemetery association and the church will be granted a hearing in front of a judge.