State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman made good Tuesday on threats of legal action against an embattled crematory in the Town of Tonawanda by filing a lawsuit seeking to permanently block its operation.
The lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court marks the latest in a series of setbacks for the dormant Sheridan Drive crematory operated by the Amigone family, which has been under fire from nearby residents who say its noise, soot and odors negatively impact their quality of life. The Tonawanda Town Board passed a resolution on Sept. 9 opposing the reopening of the crematory unless residents’ concerns are addressed.
“The Amigone crematory has cast a shadow over this Tonawanda community for too long,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “The crematory’s offensive nuisance emissions have long plagued residents, interfering with such basic pleasures as opening windows and enjoying backyards. This lawsuit will reassure this community that the Amigone crematory will never again pollute their air and disrupt their lives.”
Anthony P. Amigone Sr., chairman of the funeral home, and his legal counsel did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
In the lawsuit filed jointly with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Schneiderman charges that Amigone is unable to operate the crematory without violating state air pollution laws and creating a nuisance for nearby residents. It also seeks monetary penalties against Amigone for allegedly repeatedly violating state air pollution and other laws.
Amigone agreed to a six-month moratorium in the operation at 2600 Sheridan Drive, at Parker Boulevard, in July 2012 and had considered relocating the crematory to another spot on the property after being unable to find an acceptable alternative site. Since the moratorium expired, Amigone was required to give the attorney general two weeks’ notice if he planned on reopening the crematory in its current location.
But Amigone announced on Sept. 5 that he had “no immediate plans” to reopen the crematory and backed away from a proposal to move it to the northwest corner of the property.
Still, the attorney general decided to go ahead with the lawsuit seeking an injunction, which neighborhood residents and environmental activists cheered.
“The community around the Amigone facility has been terrified of that facility reopening,” said Rebecca Newberry of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, which organized residents. “There definitely will be a lot of people in that neighborhood that will be sleeping soundly tonight knowing that they don’t have to face those noises and odors again.”
Bill Pilkington, a resident of Werkley Road, which borders the crematory to the north, said he hopes the lawsuit eliminates the possibility that the crematory, which began operation in 1991, will ever operate again. He said he’s noticed a marked difference in the cleanliness of his lawn furniture compared with previous years.
“The last 20 years when we’ve put it away, we’ve really had to scrub it and clean it because it would be so full of soot,” he said. “We didn’t see any of that this year, so it’s been wonderful.”