Crematorium needs to locate elsewhere
by Rebecca Johnston
Columnist
June 15, 2013 11:50 PM | 1791 views | 11 11 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rebecca Johnston<br>Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
Rebecca Johnston
Cherokee Tribune Managing Editor
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The question of whether to put a crematorium in Macedonia has become a burning issue, with literally hundreds of people from the community up in arms.

Crematoriums have a place in today’s society, no question about it, and right now there is not one in Cherokee County.

But to put one in the middle of a rural community, across the street from an elementary school and ball field where hundreds of children play sports, seems a poor plan at best.

I want to also point out that I am the wife of County Commissioner Harry Johnston, who has publicly stated he plans to vote against the proposal. While we often disagree on issues, in this case we are on the same side, but I am stating my opinion and reasons here, not his.

Zoning issues have been quiet in Cherokee County for almost five years now, and many of the young families and retired couples who have packed the meetings about the crematorium have never witnessed firsthand the controversy such a request can bring.

Even some of the officials on the boards deciding the issue have little experience with this type of passion about a zoning request.

Signs against the crematorium, petitions filled with names of those in opposition, residents with stern looks clutching studies and reports were all evident at the planning and zoning meeting last week.

After the vote was taken in favor of recommending to approve the crematorium to the county commission, many people left angry and disgusted.

But they can still have hope that the plan will be turned down, because Tuesday the elected body that makes the final decision in such matters, the Cherokee Board of Commissioners, will vote on the request.

There may be others who want the crematorium there and I have just not heard from them or seen them, but other than the owners and their employees, the general consensus among residents is that Macedonia is not the best place for such an operation.

Perhaps if a funeral home already existed there, or plans were solid to build one, this would not be so black and white.

But despite the fact that the proposal is to put the crematorium in the middle of a cemetery, it just is not compatible with the surrounding countryside.

That is what a lot of the issue is about: how it would impact existing development. And most everyone I have heard from does not believe it would enhance the community.

Health issues can be debated all day long about what level of mercury is dangerous to those would breathe it day in and day out from a crematorium.

But why risk it? There are better places in Cherokee County to locate such an operation.

I live in Canton, but I consider Macedonia part of my community too. I have had calls here at the newspaper from folks in Buffington, another community to the west of Macedonia, in opposition to the plan.

Some discussion has been about what some people view as just the creepiness of crematoriums. But no one objects to the hundreds of cemeteries of all sizes that dot the landscape of Cherokee in rural settings and in the middle of towns, so I don’t think that is really the issue.

Instead, it is about compatibility with surrounding development.

It seems to me that since cremation is growing in popularity, the county zoning ordinances should be changed to allow crematoriums in light industrial settings further away from where people live and raise their families, not in such heavily populated areas.

I rode by the location proposed for this crematorium a few days ago, and I tried to imagine it there. Probably, it would not be visible from the road and the only way anyone would know, once it were built, would be to be told about it.

But the air quality of a rural community would be changed forever. How much it would affect it can be debated, how harmful can be argued. But it can’t help but change it for the worse.

As more cars crowd along Highway 20 there is enough air pollution to have to deal with. To add more in this corridor seems wrong.

I doubt we would see a factory built there, or a smelting operation, or a power plant. They would be located in appropriate zoning for those types of facilities. And that is where a crematorium should go.

This is not about denying someone their property rights, but protecting the rights of thousands of neighbors in a community they can feel good about living in with their families.

Cherokee is a big and diverse county, with room for all types of things, but let’s find the right place

for them. This community is not the right place for a crematorium.

Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.
Comments
(11)
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Bart Williams
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June 17, 2013
While I appreciate Ms. Johnston's somewhat open mindedness about cremation in general, I am still a bit puzzled by her belief and unwavering position that this is not a good location and that this should be in an industrial location.

I have made point repeatedly that Crematoriums are never located in industrial sites because it is ugly, unappealing and nobody wants to have someones memorialization take place in a dump.

The net is, once again, the proposed site is ideal, as it sits at back of 26 acre cemetery that already offers many funeral services, is out of sight, produces no environmental hazards, will not increase traffic on hwy 20 and consequently no additional pollution, and will not negatively affect property values.

As I have said, this is all about emotion. I am looking for Board of Commissioners to deal with data and facts, not emotion.

It is not like I am trying to put an adult entertainment establishment right at the corner.

Bart Williams
Resident nearby
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June 18, 2013
This is NOT about emotion. There is a lot of solid, current data about the harmful effects on humans and the environment of even very minor amounts of mercury emissions. Memorialization of cremated loved ones can take place at the cemetary after actual incineration - that is what it is -- happening at a more appropriate non-residential site away from homes and schools. Saying objections are emotion-based is a condescending way to treat thinking citizens who object to your business-based zoning request.
Resident nearby
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June 18, 2013
Objections are not emotion-based but fact-based. There is a a LOT of current solid data showing dangers to people, especially children, and the environment, from even small amounts of airborne mercury emissions. Your characterization of well-founded serious objections as "emotional" is condescending and disrespectful to thinking citizens whose right to protect their health and property outranks your right to get this zoning change approved for your profit.
T Craig
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June 18, 2013
Mr. Williams,

You have decided you want to build a crematorium in an area that is not properly zoned for it. The community has made it as CLEAR as they possibly can that they don't want it. Build where it is properly zoned and this is not an issue.

In any comment you make about opposition to your business you vilify the very community you want to put your business. Word on the street is you even plan to sue the county if the vote doesn't go your way. So why do you want your business where it is clearly not welcome?

And as for your comment about not putting in an entertainment establishment, to some people it is just as offensive and we are the people who live in that community, not you

Perry Pennington
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June 18, 2013
Mr. Williams,

I am not worried about fumes, toxins, black plumes of smoke or all of the drama and emotion that go along with this crematorium. But the use of the land just doesn't fit the landscape. That might be a reason why it wasn't zoned anything other than AG in the first place.

A cemetery can be a peaceful place for some and it can also instill a sense of community for others. You would be hard pressed to say the same for a crematorium. It is reminiscent of what the world has become today; portable. Cremations make sense for many reasons, but they also give the connotation of never finally resting in my opinion. Cremains are portable. We live in an ever moving, portable world today. In a community that has been around for many, many years, we have moved here because we are NOT portable. You don't see any apartment complexes in Macedonia. The majority own our homes and we moved here because we love the community and want to stay.

Spin it any way you want. You are a business man and this is about the business, no doubt. However, you don't live in this community, the cemetery DOES NOT provide funeral services and the state won't even support you on this one because they view this as a stand alone crematorium.

In tonight's meeting, you mentioned to a gentleman who was sitting behind me that you were used to controversy and you would get through this. Not so fast mister. And being used to controversy isn't something I would wear like a badge.

I do wish you the best at locating a more suitable location for your facility as it is certainly a needed service but I am thankful that the County Commissioners sided with the people this time.
why not
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June 17, 2013
are these comment spaces just for looks? to give illusion of allowing 'comment'? it appears so, since mine never see the light of day.

a crematorium for creating horrible fumes of poisons stinks like hell. burn one human hair and it stinks up the entire room. little less poisons from 3 hours burning of one body, with goes out 'colorless' as a gas into lungs of children and thousounds of residents.

ignorant masses of china, india, japan, how should they know better? but jokers here with dollar signs in both eyes stoke the fires (of hell) for all to breathe.
Bart Williams
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June 18, 2013
As I said, emotions are rampant and rational thinking has diappeared. Look at the facts. And don't be ashamed. Provide your name. Perhaps we can have a cup of coffee or a beer and I will help to educate you. My treat.
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