Facing 300 residents waving “NO” signs, the Gwinnett County Commission voted 3-0 to reject a special use permit that would allow Bill Head Funeral Home on Lawrenceville Highway to construct a 436-square-foot incinerator and crematory. The Commission vote follows the Planning Commission denial recommendation.
The AJC reports that the meeting drew the attention of State Senator Steven Henson who hinted at state involvement on the impacts of a crematory on surrounding communities.
After Tuesday’s hearing, state Sen. Steve Henson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he believes the General Assembly needs to re-examine data over crematories.
“I do think there’s every cause for concern,” he said.
By a 4-3 vote the Gwinnett County Planning Commission recommended denial of a special use permit for Bill Head Funeral Home that would allow it to construct the 436-square-foot crematory incinerator at its Tucker location on Lawrenceville Highway.
The proposal has met almost unanimous opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods because the crematory would be about 100 feet from several residences and within a half-mile of 17 residential subdivisions.
The Planning Commission vote is non-binding. The application now proceeds to the Gwinnett County Commission, which could vote on it as early as November 16.
DeKalb County Commission approves a permit for a crematory to be built at A.S. Turner & Sons funeral home on North Decatur Road near Winn Way. This will be only the second crematory approved in DeKalb County. The County eased crematory regulations last year.
There may be a end in sight for the continuing, continuing, continuing, and continuing crematory battle in Snellville. No deal yet and there remains division on the City Council, but the parties are exploring resolution.
The city attorney will have a recommendation within 60 days on whether to settle or “take our chances” in court.
In the fight that keeps going and going and going, the Snellville Board of Appeals revoked the City’s issuance of certificates of occupancy and development conformance. By a vote of 3-2, the Board ruled that the building plan submitted by the crematory in 2006 differed substantially from the actual operation that opened in September, including the installation of a smokestack.
The Board overruled the city planning department, which judged earlier that the crematory was not substantially different from its original plans and issued the certificates.
The matter will go back to the City Council for a vote sometime in November.
After losing the first and second rounds in the fight against the crematory, Snellville City Council member Kelly Kautz has introduced a proposed ordinance to prevent businesses such as hospitals and crematories —- one crematory in particular —- from polluting the air. The ordinance would place specific limits on mercury and dioxin/furan emissions for any incinerator of bodies, body parts or infectious wastes.
The proposed ordinance was modeled after a Pennsylvania ordinance, which was modeled after the Clean Air Act.
While the proposed ordinance excludes pre-existing facilities, but would prevent any air-polluting facilities within 300 yards of residential properties in Snellville and require businesses to self-monitor their emissions and report them to the city.
The proposal already faces opposition from within the City Council with Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer objecting to its introduction and first reading:
“The basis of the whole ordinance scares me because the person who wrote it has no experience in environmental law. She’s a trial lawyer,” Oberholtzer said. “What I understand is that she cut and pasted different ordinances together,” he added.
The proposal will be voted on at the October 13 meeting of the City Council at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Room of Snellville City Hall.
After weeks of delay, Snellville seems to have conceded that it has no legal right to stop a proposed crematorium. Faced with neighborhood opposition, the City Council had delayedissuing a business permit so it could conduct environmental studies. City Manager Russell Treadway spent two weeks researching the environmental impact of crematories and announced at the City Council meeting that he found no hard evidence that crematories are dangerous.
While conceding that the crematorium could legally open, the council did approve a new ordinance allowing city employees to regulate the emissions from crematories.
UPDATE: Here are the meeting minutes from the Council’s July 31 Meeting and August 25 Meeting. Seems the delay was not due to the environmental study. Instead, parking requirements seem to be the basis of the delay. There was a motion for an investigation regarding the crematory Certificate of Occupancy, zoning application, and subsequent permitting or any other issue was made, but failed 3-3. The city has the authority to call for an investigation into the “affairs of the city or conduct of any department, office, or agency”.