A Town of Tonawanda funeral home is withdrawing its request to move its cremation operations.
Vincent J. Amigone, chief executive officer of the family-owned chain of funeral homes, made the announcement Thursday. He said Sheridan Park Inc., the nonprofit corporation under which the crematory operates, has withdrawn its request for permission from the Erie County Legislature to move its operations to a site on Cooper Avenue. The site is zoned industrial, but Sheridan Park – with its golf course and ball fields – is a block away, and there are homes nearby.
A public hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, has been canceled. County lawmakers would have had to designate the area as a cemetery district before the state Division of Cemeteries could have given its approval.
In July, Sheridan Park Inc. agreed to a six-month shutdown of its crematory at 2600 Sheridan Drive, as it tried to solve neighbors’ complaints about emissions there. The agreement, with the State Attorney General’s Office, was made as residents and a local environmental group sought a public-nuisance lawsuit by the attorney general.
But those complaints followed Sheridan Park Inc. to Cooper Avenue, where opposition arose among residents of Two Mile Creek Road, directly behind the proposed site for the crematory operation.
“Unfortunately, the neighbors in the new proposed location have expressed opposition to our operations, and the New York State Cemetery Board has expressed opposition to our moving the operations,” Amigone said in the statement.
“It’s a great example of what happens when residents organize their neighborhood and stand up for what’s right,” said Rebecca R. Newberry, program coordinator for the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York.
“I am hopeful that [Amigone] will find another location,” she said.
If the crematory isn’t able to relocate, Sheridan Park is required to retain a technical expert – with experience in operating crematories – to recommend engineering solutions to end problematic emissions. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman reserved the right to take legal action if the concerns about emissions are not rectified.
Amigone, in a telephone interview, declined to identify the company’s next step.
But in the news release, he maintained his belief that the operations are safe.