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Planning Commission

This is the official blog of the Montgomery County Planning Commission.

May 26

Final Resting Places in the County

Posted on May 26, 2017 at 3:53 PM by Michael Stokes

Perhaps this Memorial Day weekend you will visit one of the cemeteries in Montgomery County that comprise more than 1800 acres in order to pay your respect to one of the many heroes who fought and sacrificed for our freedom.  During your visit, you may realize that cemeteries are interesting landscapes that vary in size and overall design.   Small family plots are located throughout the county as well as cemeteries over 100 acres in size.

Of all of the land uses in the county, cemeteries are one of the most permanent.  Yet in rare cases for very compelling needs, even cemeteries can be displaced with the careful disinterment of those buried there.   

The permanence of cemeteries requires "perpetual care.”  To ensure that, Pennsylvania law requires that a permanent lot care fund be established for all new cemeteries.  However, this provision does not apply to cemeteries owned by churches or religious congregations.  Since the law wasn’t established until 1972, some older cemeteries may not be subject to it or may have an insufficiently sized permanent care fund. 

As a result there are some cemeteries throughout the county which are not well maintained or appear to have no owner.  In these cases, other organizations such as historic societies, municipalities, community associations and other religious organizations have taken over maintenance responsibilities.    

At one time planners were concerned about having adequate cemetery space in their communities.  Now that doesn’t appear to such a great concern.  In fact no new cemeteries have been proposed in the county in the last several decades.  With the growth of cremation (experts predict that as many as 70% of the deceased in 2030 will be cremated) and the interest in alternatives to traditional ground burial, cemetery space is being consumed at much slower rates.  These trends are changing the function of existing cemeteries.  Some cemeteries are now hosting funeral homes with cremation services on site and offering memorial gardens for ash dispersal.  Cemeteries are also building large multi-level mausoleums containing several crypts.

As communities grow up around cemeteries, residents value them for their history, open space and even recreation potential.  This is very evident in some of the county’s larger cemeteries such as the Hillside Cemetery in Abington Township or West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Lower Merion Township which are both popular destinations for walkers and bikers.  Memorial garden style cemeteries with flush-to-the-ground bronze memorials typically feature gardens, fountains and ponds making them very scenic landscapes.

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A typical cemetery on Memorial Day

Hillside Cem
The diversity of our county is now evident in local cemeteries

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Cemeteries are important in preserving local history

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Some cemeteries contain crypts so large they almost need a building permit

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Other cemeteries are in more natural settings

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Even Halloween has a special place in some cemeteries


May 25

Creative Montco

Posted on May 25, 2017 at 9:32 AM by Rita McKelvey

Whether you’re looking to catch a movie, go to the zoo, brush up on local history, or see a new play, Montgomery County has an abundance of arts and culture offerings. On top of that, the county is full of creative individuals, workers, and employers.  So how can we bring this all together? How can we create an environment where arts and culture can be a focal point for the county? That’s the starting place for Creative Montco, a partnership of civic leaders, organizations, businesses, and individuals working to implement a countywide 10-year comprehensive plan for the cultural and creative economy.

The leadership behind Creative Montco has been organizing periodic meet-ups where interested individuals can come to collaborate with their peers. Look for the next meet-up in the spring and, in the interim, stay in touch by signing up for periodic announcements on the Creative Montco email list. 

May 02

When the Sidewalk Ends

Posted on May 2, 2017 at 5:05 PM by Michael Stokes

Montgomery County is a suburban county with 61% of the all roadways containing no sidewalks.  Most walking trips in our county involve areas where the sidewalk ends, if even for a few hundred feet.  Closing these gaps is a difficult and thankless process that needs to be done.  Even though sidewalks are simple structures to build, the decision about where they are needed can involve many variables, primarily population density and how people need to get around.  Actually getting the sidewalk built depends upon persistence and successfully using every opportunity.  Certainly when properties are developed in areas with current or future pedestrian needs, sidewalks should be installed with the development- no debate.   In other areas, municipal leaders may need to get creative to fund the construction of sidewalks.  Creating a suburban environment where walking is safe and pleasant is not easy, and it will take time.  Let’s all work hard on this issue so that someday the sidewalk (or trail) will not end before our journey is over.  

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Sometimes when the sidewalk ends we encounter a barrier

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Or an annoying sign

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Or we have to make our own trail

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There may be a few barriers to get around

Sidewalks
Sometimes even builders can't figure out how to
connect sidewalks

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But when they get it right as they did here in Limerick
Township, a sidewalk extension can be a pretty
picture.