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Amigone neighbors resume fight to stop cremations despite state permit

Amigone Funeral won a state permit to resume cremations at its Sheridan Drive location, once improvements are made.

But neighbors are continuing their drive to stop that from happening, and they plan to distribute petitions, buttons and signs showing their opposition.

About 30 residents, including members of the Clean Air Coalition, met Tuesday to discuss a strategy to stop Amigone Funeral Home from reopening its crematory at 2600 Sheridan Drive.

"We've got to be diligent in this fight," said Neal Hodgson. "We were here before the crematorium."

The state in June gave Amigone a permit to reopen after the funeral home followed orders to make significant upgrades to the crematory. The state Supreme Court gave the final OK on Aug. 7, provided Amigone puts the upgrades in place.

Shutting down the crematorium has been the mission of some residents since it opened in 1991. And they had success, shutting it down five years ago. Many thought they had permanently shut it down.

Tonawanda residents fear Amigone crematorium could reopen

Robin Stein, who bought her house on Werkley Road three years ago, was unaware of the shadow of the crematorium. Stein said the corner of her backyard meets the corner of the funeral home parking lot.

"I had no idea," said Stein. "Later I found out from my neighbor that every single day she had to go out and wipe down her patio furniture because it was covered in ash."

Legislator Kevin Hardwick, R-City of Tonawanda, told residents that they tried to legally fight the location in a residential zone and paid hundred of thousands of dollars to an attorney, but lost the case.

According to the permit from the state Department of  Environmental Conservation, Amigone will have the capacity to cremate 2,960 bodies a year, but will "likely not exceed 1,500 per year."

Officials from Amigone have issued "no comment" on their plans, but state officials said it could take up to six months for the required updates to be put in place.

The funeral home intends to use its existing incinerator, but it will be refurbished and air pollution control equipment will be added.

"The controls are beyond that required by regulation and should address the issues raised by the community, including particulate and fallout and odors," the DEC said.

The Attorney General's Office noted that the upgrade includes mercury emission controls and a bag house that will control particulate and dust emissions.

Schneiderman seeking to prevent reopening of Amigone crematory

Dave Hyzy of Maplegrove Avenue talked about petition drive.

"I think we have to focus on a simple message. We don't want a crematorium in our neighborhood – we don't want it in anyone's neighborhood," he said.

"I have supported this, and I and the Town Board have been with (residents) all the way through, but there is nothing the town can do. This is a county and a state operation," Supervisor Joseph Emminger said.

The DEC met with residents in May to inform them about the status of the permit application and provided copies of the draft permit.

Residents who attended the May meeting said Tuesday that all who attended opposed the plan.

"Doesn't our neighborhood have a say in this? We all have rights to use our property, too," said Ron Labuda of Werkley Road.



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