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Where It Stands

Where It Stands: Paved road access to Meeting House Springs cemetery is in limbo

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A plan is on hold to bring paved roadway access to the Meeting House Springs cemetery in North Middleton Township.

There is an agreement in place between the cemetery association, the township and a developer, said Marcus McKnight III, a Carlisle attorney representing the caretakers of one of the oldest cemeteries in Cumberland County.

The agreement calls for the eventual replacement of the current gravel access road with a paved road tied into a street system approved as part of a subdivision plan forwarded by Waggoners Gap Road LLC of Leola, Lancaster County.

“We were expecting it to start midyear [2018] but it never started,” McKnight said about the subdivision. “Now the property is up for sale. Presumably a new developer would take over and use the same plan approved by the township. The deal is still in place but we need a development to happen to get the permanent road.”

The cemetery was accessible by way of the Meeting House Road underpass tunnel in Carlisle Borough. That access was cut off around Aug. 15, 2015, when the Turnpike Commission eliminated the overpass crossing Meeting House Road as part of its plan to widen and extend the turnpike in Cumberland County.

Working on behalf of the association, McKnight filed an equity action and injunction in September 2015 against the commission and the adjoining property owner, Waggoners Gap Road LLC.

The equity action asked Cumberland County Judge Thomas Placey to require the commission to either reopen Meeting House Road or to provide and fund an adequate public access road off Route 74. A nonjury trial on the lawsuit was originally scheduled for Aug. 17, 2016, but rescheduled for that November. The trial did not take place.

Instead, the association through the First Presbyterian Church of Carlisle reached an out-of-court settlement with the commission and the developer, McKnight said. He said DABD Limited Partnership represented the George family as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Rather than go to trial, the commission agreed to provide funds to the developer to install pull-over spaces at different points along the gravel road as a temporary solution, McKnight said.

The gravel road off Route 74 did not provide adequate public access to the cemetery because it was only wide enough for one vehicle and was not designed to handle heavy equipment. The pull-over spaces allow for better access for vehicles going in both directions.

Prior to the closure of the tunnel, the Meeting House Springs cemetery was an active burial ground that hosted special services on select holidays. Since the closure, the church had barred the association from hosting events where there could be a large draw of people due to the inadequate access provided by the gravel road.

At one point, Waggoners Gap Road LLC had submitted a plan to develop 150 single-family detached homes on 97 acres between the cemetery and Route 74.

Where It Stands is a weekly column that takes a look at what has happened with a news story since it was last reported on by The Sentinel.

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Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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