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Stow City Council to vote on crematory legislation this week

by Jeremy Nobile | reporter Published: December 9, 2012 12:00 AM
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Stow -- The hotly contested issue of whether crematoriums should be permitted uses on funeral home property will be discussed at length during Monday's Council Committees meetings.

A public hearing on the issue will begin at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in Council chambers.

At the hearing, all will have an opportunity to address City Council members regarding why they believe a proposed change to the city's zoning code allowing the installation of crematories should or shouldn't be permitted.

The issue was originally introduced to Council by representatives of Redmon Funeral Home who have said the business would like to install a crematory at its location on 3633 Darrow Road.

The city's only other funeral home is the Dunn-Quigley Funeral Home, located at 3333 Kent Road.

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On Oct. 25, Council gave a first reading of the corresponding legislation that would specifically change the definition of funeral homes in the zoning code and permit crematories at those facilities.

As evidenced by signs in a couple of Darrow Road residents' lawns -- which read "Protect our neighborhoods. Protect our property values. No crematoriums near our homes!" -- some residents have been protesting the proposed amendment since its introduction to Council this fall.

Some residents have told Council members at prior meetings they believe crematoriums would be unsightly and could negatively impact property values for those living in nearby residences.

Others have argued that the corresponding emissions associated with the cremation process could be detrimental to air quality and public health.

"I live downwind, not right behind [Redmon Funeral Home], but downwind of it. I go for walk every evening. I don't want to be walking around thinking, 'Oh, my goodness. What am I breathing now?,'" said Joan Lash, a Marhofer Avenue resident, at an Oct. 22 meeting of Council Committees.

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In October, Redmon Funeral Home President Bruce Redmon told the Stow Sentry via email that he contests the notion that property values would be adversely affected for nearby residents or impact home sales, citing discussions with Kent and Fairlawn real estate agents as those municipalities currently allow crematories in residential areas.

Duane LaClair, an engineering supervisor for the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District -- a governmental agency that processes applications for crematory equipment -- told Council Oct. 22 that when all equipment is operating properly, smoke from crematory stacks usually isn't visible and only would be in the case of malfunctions.

"If there is a malfunction, we'll order them to shut it down," LaClair told Council.

He said in 20 years with the agency, he has encountered only two cases of malfunctioning equipment.

After Monday's public hearing, the legislation could then come before City Council Dec. 13 for a final vote.

Email: jnobile@recordpub.com

Phone: 333-541-9400, ext. 4179

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anonymous Dec 9, 2012 2:54 PM

Contrary to Mr Redmon's comment on property values, there is a study performed by University of Penn and Wyoming U Professors of Economics and Finance,"Directional heterogeneity of environmental disamenities: the impact of crematory operations on adjacent residential values" published in Applied Economics 2010 42 1735-1745, that crematoria location does affect a lowering of property values.A total of 372 home sales spanning a baseline period of seven months before crematory start up and twenty months after startup,"Results indicate that proximity measured both in terms of direction and distance from the crematory, imparts a statistically significant negative impact on average house sale prices of 0.3 to 3.6% of average sale price for every one-tenth mile increase up to one-half mile in distance away from the crematory." Annual prevailing wind directions were also included in the study. I would like to also point out that Stow Planning commision has a letter published in the Aug 28 meeting minutes from Jana Chevenic and Thomas Leeser stating "As a state certified licensed real estate appraiser, a crematorium in the neighborhood is definitely NOT a plus an already unstable market".Chevenic Reality is located two buildings over from the Redmon Funeral Home.

People should know that the US EPA DOES NOT cover crematories for any emissions other than PM (particulate matter) which is soot. There is no level requirements for mercury vapor resulting from dental amalgen fillings, as there is in the United Kingdom per law AQ1(05), of for other combustion gaseous emissions which are harmful to human and animal health.The EPA was lobbied in 1999 to declare that a dead human body is not solid waste, and therefore not subject to the emission incineration requirements for medical waste incinerators, which are allowed to cremate body limbs and organs.A local funeral home crematory could also cremate body limbs, but without air quality control.I encourage all citizens from Stow, as well as,surrounding communities to attend the Dec 10, 5:30PM meeting and speak against passage of ordinance 2012-165, because polluted air travels far and wide,and posionous mercury vapor affects human brain, lungs, kidneys,central and peripheral nervous systems, skin and eyes.

Enrico J. Caruso Stow, OH