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Crematorium issue burns on

By Bryan Richardson

Discussions concerning zoning regulations for a crematorium will continue at a later date after the Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board failed to come to a consensus Monday night.

The issue is a continuation of Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home’s application earlier this year for a permit to build a crematorium on its property. The application has since been withdrawn, but planners have decided they still ant to resolve the question of where such a facility could be situated.

Steve Zilkie, senior planner, presented four alternatives Monday: leaving crematoriums as an accessory use to mortuaries and funeral homes, regulating crematoriums separately, creating a conditional use process for crematoriums, and creating a partnership to construct a crematorium in Sunrise Cemetery.

Zilkie said the issues brought up during the initial discussions — among them emissions of mercury - are common in crematorium discussions.

“It’s a controversial issue when it comes up for the first time,” he said.

Zilkie said only one small Pennsylvania community regulates its mercury emissions.

Board member Gary Stith, with agreement from the rest of the board, said it doesn’t make sense for the city to try to regulate mercury emissions if no other government or community is willing to try. “I don’t know how we’d have the capacity to test it, measure it, enforce it and determine even what the standards should be,” he said.

While board members didn’t express opposition to the idea of a crematorium, they had differing opinions on where it should go.

Board members Mike Kratochvil and Mike Hill both thought there isn’t a perfect spot in the city, which meant the existing regulations should be left alone.

Kratochvil said reasonable arguments could be made against any of the alternatives. “After I read everything, I said leave it the way it is,” he said.

Hill said different factors such as wind and potential development leaves most argument for other locations moot. “That location (on Poyntz) is no potentially worse than any of the others,” he said.

Stith disagreed with that reasoning. He said it made more sense to put distance between a crematorium and a residential neighborhood.

“I can’t see putting a crematorium on Poyntz Avenue, right in the middle of our residential neighborhoods,” Stith said.

Board member Phil Anderson suggested allowing a crematorium at the industrial park district near Menards. He said the least amount of objection to building a crematorium would be in that area due to the lack of residential neighborhoods.

Kratochvil mentioned a proposed daycare that could be built in that area as an argument for why that wouldn’t be a good place.

Board member Linda Morse said the city could look beyond its limits in places other than Sunrise Cemetery. “I don’t understand why it has to be inside the city,” she said. “The city has done island annexes.”

The planning board requested more information before making a decision.

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