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Would Crematory Pose a Hazard? Some Say It Might

Residents ask city leaders to halt plan for Jardine's to build crematorium on Pearl Road because of potential mercury emissions

A proposal by to  is coming under closer scrutiny after residents have come forward with concerns about safety issues, including the amount of mercury that could be released into the air.

The mercury comes from fillings in people's teeth, and it's not a new issue -- funeral homes across the country have faced fights to build crematories in recent years.

"I've been approached by some residents to look into this," Ward 2 Councilman Matt Schonhut said. "Obviously, we have concerns if there are health risks."

But Jason Jardine said that while questions about emissions are valid, there is no reason to worry.

"The machines we're buying are state-of-the-art," he said. "They were designed to run in neighborhoods."

In fact, he said the equipment will emit less mercury than a dentist's office.

"There's absolutely no smoke, there's no odor," Jardine said. 

Jardine's is asking the city to approve plans for a crematory on its property at 15822 Pearl Rd.

According to eHow.com, as little as one gram of vaporized mercury can make the air toxic, and some people have more than four grams worth of fillings in their mouths.

There is debate over how much mercury crematories emit -- the EPA says it's about 320 pounds a year, while activists maintain it's more like three tons.

Regardless, it pales in comparison to the 10,000 tons emitted by power plants.

Some of the other concerns residents are posing:

If crematories are safe, why did Cleveland change its laws to only permit them in industrial areas?

 A crematory could ultimately make the school-owned land behind Jardine's unusable for any purpose, even if a proposed middle school isn't built there.

It could lower property values for nearby residents and make it difficult for them to sell their homes.

It could present a negative image for athletes and spectators on the nearby playing fields.

City officials believed the crematory would need a variance because it lies too close to adjacent school property, but Jardine said that was a mistake and no variance is needed.

The project still needs one more permit from the EPA, aesthetic approval from the Architectural Review Board and then two OKs -- conditional use and site plan -- from the Planning Commission.

It is on the agenda for this Thursday, July 12.

It will likely not go before City Council, which last year -- at Jardine's request -- established a set of local regulations for crematories in Strongsville.

Jardine said that with up to 40 percent of Ohio families now choosing cremation, he wants to offer people the peace of mind that comes with keeping their loved ones close to home.

"Families will no longer have to worry about where their loved one is at a third-party setting," he said.

Schonhut said he is keeping an open mind while he looks into the issue.

"There's a lot we don't know yet," he said. "I haven't done enough research to form an opinion yet."

lyn July 09, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Since Jardine's requested Strongsville to establish regs for a crematory, I'm wondering just how different those regs would have been if they had been created by the city without the request of one of mayor's "inner circle". I bet the regs would have said to put any body burners where they require any strip clubs to be built - over near the industrial area, on the edge of town. Must be nice to know SOMEBODY in this city!
Hometown Mom July 09, 2012 at 04:08 PM
My thoughts....let's just pile all of these new additions to Strongsville in one area! Who really cares??? I do, but I am just a long time resident and not a big fish in our little pond! I wonder how the cafe at the new Giant Eagle will go with Jardine doing this new" project" right across the street? I know that there are measures taken, so Lyn don't go off on me...but it is not a nice thought to think that you have food for life on one side of the street and then the death procedures going directly across Pearl Road. This is too close to all of us that live in the area and just gross to know you are going shopping right there as well...... Please think about this Strongsville...the High School, perhaps a Middle School, all the School Buses, the Post Office, the Glamorous Food Store, possible big ticket restaurants...what else? AND...Jardine burning bodies.......just think STrongsville
James Murphy July 09, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I think they should allow a strip club right on the whitney/pearl corner where quality catering was !!! the homeowners would be begging sheetz to come back
tom m July 09, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Jardine said that with up to 40 percent of Ohio families now choosing cremation, he wants to offer people the peace of mind that comes with keeping their loved ones close to home ........ LIKE ASHES IN THE TREES LAWN AND GUTTERS
fd July 09, 2012 at 06:06 PM
if you really want to get the facts regarding crematories contact doctor fagan at case western reserve university department of environmental studies or contact the city of cleveland division of air quality this is the department that will be responsible for reporting to the ohio epa. both of these departments have some interesting facts on the effects of mercury emissions human crematories
lyn July 09, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Hometown Mon- I'm sorry if I come across as though I would "go off" on someone because I have a strong opinion on some things. I, too, would like my comments to be responded to respectfully. However, some posters like to get create a hostile debate, and if I'm in it, then I may even more strongly state my case. But regarding this matter, unless I'm not reading your comment correctly, I think we agree. I would prefer to see any body burners shoved off in some far wooded corner, hidden in trees, on property with a lot of acreage - near industry. If Jardine's wants to take care of their own clients, then maybe they should purchase the kind of property I have mentioned to do this creepy deed. Its like eating meat. I eat it, but I don't need to be reminded of how it got to the grocery store.
lyn July 09, 2012 at 07:13 PM
James- Or Sheetz could expand their business, combine the 2 and have a "Bring Your Own Sheetz to Toga Party Night" once a week. Dress code for underneath? As for under kilts! Woo-hoo!! Toga-Toga!!!
lyn July 09, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Can you give us a short version of what the facts are?
fd July 09, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I don't want to put words in others mouths, but I can tell you none of it is good and they would certainly not recommend this location. I have firsthand dealings with these two departments. The citizens asked them to research and they did. They made their findings public at zoning meetings and denied me the ability to install a crematory in 3 different proposed commercial locations. 2 of which were pretty deep into industrial areas in Cleveland. I have since complied and found real estate that is properly zoned in an industrial area outside of Cleveland. It took me 6 years to complete my search for the proper real estate and I am happy we did not locate anywhere near any residential areas. The neighbors would always object and complain once the equipment is in operation. After my (3) failed attempts I have followed this topic nationwide and have seen the majority of proposed installations get rejected by the zoning boards. It is my take that it will only become tougher as time goes on. If you don't want it in this location, you must speak up now and get your petitions out there and do a little grass-roots politicking. BTW it is Dr. Kathleen Fagan at CWRU.
Tom Brennan July 09, 2012 at 09:35 PM
When my father passed away a few years ago, we respected his wishes and had him cremated and we all thought it was a common sense approach. It was done at an off-site facility located in a more "industrial" area, then his ashes were interred at Holy Cross. I would be curious to know if any cities similar to Strongsville allow this procedure to be performed in a light commercial / residential / educational area. If for nothing else,this just doesn't seem to be an appropriate operation to take place at the present Jardine location. Couldn't they pick up a small parcel in the industrial park and still "keep it close to home"? But knowing how things work in the 'Ville, it's probably a done deal.
Tom Brennan July 09, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I did not see the informative post from "fd" before I posted my last comment, but from his information, I get the distinct impression that Strongsville approving this type of facility would buck the nationwide trend. I would hope they follow that trend, but I have a feeling that won't be the case unless this whole issue becomes a bit more important to those who live closest to the Jardine facility on Pearl.
Jean Williams July 09, 2012 at 10:36 PM
OMG thats funny
Jean Williams July 09, 2012 at 10:38 PM
that is a great point, too close to schools and shopping centers
kenneth malady July 09, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Get a job - get out in the world - meet people - and MAYBE then you will know SOMEBODY !!!
lyn July 10, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Kenneth- Are you trying to offend me? I guess its obvious, but a rather pointless comment.
Ray Visotski July 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM
It appears that the NIMBY (Not in my back yard) thought process is kicking in here. I am the operator of a Crematory in SC and we are located directly across the street from a well known, busy restaurant, next door to a large car dealership on one side and a church on the other. We moved to that location six years ago and we are performing 3-4 cremations/day, seven days a week. No ashes on the cars, ( or gutters, lawns or trees for that matter) no smoke, no odors...it sure hasn't hurt the crowds across the street, that's for sure...and that establishment has lots of glass that allows patrons to look across the roadway at our building....lots of glass. If smoke and ashes were spewing from our crematory, I'm sure I would hear about it. With today's technology, you would never even know that it is there...really. Let the Jardine's follow through on their plans. RJV, Aiken, SC
tom m July 10, 2012 at 01:17 PM
UMMMMMM HEY RAY , "he wants to offer people the peace of mind that comes with keeping their loved ones close to home ........ LIKE ASHES IN THE TREES LAWN AND GUTTERS" You do know that was humor right........
Ralph July 10, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I'm sure Jardine will perform cremations for other funeral homes at a fee. First the herses will come, then trucks and finally freight trains loaded with remains to burn; sound familiar? Work makes you free!
lyn July 12, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Why not put this body burner over in Foltz Industrial area - help with expanding that area. I hope the city does not approve the current location. I do not like the idea that it was Jardines that approached the city to create regs for this type of facility.
lyn July 12, 2012 at 06:44 PM
IF they approve it for the current location, they should only burn bodies for people holding viewings at that location. It should not be a service farmed out to other funeral homes.
James Murphy July 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
yes the can go right up lunn to foltz
Tom Brennan July 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I would have to believe that Jardines would have to offer this service to other area funeral homes just for this proposal to be cost effective. Totally unscientific, but it appears that they may have one or two sets of arrangements going on at any given time, and obviously not all families are interested in this option. I'm sure this aspect of this situation has been addressed in the regulations. Or maybe not.....
Beverly July 13, 2012 at 03:29 AM
This is a BAD idea. Do your research-this IS not safe -any amount of mercury in the air is a TERRIBLE thing.So, don't compare it to the extreme concentration put out by a power plant & think that will make me feel better. They don't care who might get sick & die-hell, they'll make money off it! That's their business . I also can't help but be suspect of a South Carolina cremator that randomly shows up on a Strongsville website supporting Jardines. I have had dealings w/them & wouldn't trust the young one as far as I could spit.

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