Stow Council rejects ordinance permitting crematoriums

by Jeremy Nobile | Reporter Published:

Stow -- Redmon Funeral Home will not be able to go ahead with plans to build a crematorium, after Council voted down legislation Jan. 10 that would have permitted such structures in Stow.

City Council rejected the legislation 4-3, prompting applause from the audience.

"If we vote 'yes,' there might be a small possibility of hurting someone," said Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Bednar, "so I'm going to vote 'no' tonight."

"[The ordinance] not only affects your neighborhood, but it affects the whole city of Stow," said At-Large Councilman John Pribonic, adding that "safety is always a priority for me" before voting no.

Ward 3 Councilman Brian Lowdermilk, Ward 2 Councilman Jim Costello and At-Large Councilman Brian D'Antonio voted for the ordinance.

"Personally, I don't have a problem with the crematorium," said Costello. "I don't believe there is enough pollution ... to pose a problem."

The debate -- which has stretched out over several months -- was between the wishes of Redmon Funeral Home president Keith Redmon, who wants to improve the business by adding cremation services, and concerns of neighboring residents, who have claimed their health and property values might be adversely affected if the crematory were installed.

Redmon Funeral Home is located at 3633 Darrow Road. The city's only other funeral home is the Dunn-Quigley Funeral Home at 3333 Kent Road.

Some residents had asked if a crematory could be installed farther away from funeral homes in some of the city's industrially zoned areas or if the business could relocate there.

The ordinance, however, provides that no crematoriums can be located outside of a funeral home itself.

Others have insisted that the release of incinerated remains into the air would be detrimental to their general welfare.

"Two of my daughters have asthma," said Williamson Road resident Michael Kosmach during a Jan. 7 meeting of Council committees. "Can this body tell me they are knowledgeable enough on this subject to tell me that having an incinerator near our house won't affect their qualities of life?"

Kosmach also argued that approving the ordinance might be contradictory to the purpose of the city's zoning code, which helps protect public health and ensure all property uses and purposes are harmonious with their surrounding areas.

Others still have argued that they're simply uncomfortable with the idea of a crematory operating nearby and have urged Council to vote how they would if it were their property near the funeral home.

"My reason for opposing this is very simple," said Kosmach's wife, Tracy. "I don't want a mega furnace in my neighborhood."

Residents in favor of allowing crematoriums in the city have been in a minority at meetings. In past discussions, some citizens spoke to the Redmon family's good character and long history in the community. Others, like Call Road resident William Bungard, said they favor the facilities in Stow as long as pollution wasn't a major factor.

In an effort to balance both residents' concerns and the business' wishes, Council had the corresponding ordinance amended to include additional operational regulations on crematories.

According to the ordinance, all crematorium equipment must be "operated in conformance with all applicable local, state and federal laws and shall be operated and maintained according to the manufacturer's specifications."

The law further stated, "All crematory equipment shall be inspected annually for proper operation and emissions. A letter or other article certifying compliance shall be kept for life."

Regardless of those provisions, however, the legislation was voted down.

Email: jnobile@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400, ext. 4179

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