TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - After months of complaints about smoke and a foul odor at the Amigone crematory, it appears neighbors are back to square one. News 4 has learned the crematory will not move after all.
State officials say Amigone cannot move the crematory. The State Cemetery Board ruled, only cemeteries can operate crematories. The property where Amigone's funeral home is located is zoned "cemetery," so a move would be out of the question.
Amigone Funeral Home's Town of Tonawanda neighbors say, fumes and ashes coming from the crematory's stack are loud and unpleasant. Amigone executives say their technology is state-of-the-art and the operation exceeds state emissions standards.
But last July, the Attorney General intervened and Amigone agreed to shut down the crematory for six months.
Ron Gniazdowski said, "Who knows what kind of toxins are in the air? The fact that you can see it and smell it is enough for me to be extremely concerned."
The Amigone family then looked to move the crematory to another less populated neighborhood in Tonawanda, but protesters opposed that decision, too.
Rebecca Newberry of the Clean Air Coalition said, "It has never been a case of 'not in my backyard,' it has been a case of not in anyone's backyard. Crematories don't belong in neighborhoods. They belong away from people."
But state officials are now saying the crematory cannot be moved anywhere. That decision came from the State Cemetery Board in its September meeting and was just recently confirmed.
Amigone executives might be feeling backed into a corner. First state officials tell them to move the crematory, in a written agreement from last summer. Now they are telling them moving the crematory would be illegal.
The agreement with the Attorney General, called an "Assurance of Discontinuance," called for Amigone to promptly look for an alternative location for the crematory. But the Cemetery Board points out, a 16-year-old State Law prohibits a funeral home from operating a crematory. So what now?
Newberry said, "If the Amigones turn that crematory back on, they are going to have a lot of angry people in that neighborhood who will be pressuring the state to launch a nuisance suit."
Amigone executives declined comment, but they did open the crematory before the law barring funeral homes from operating crematories was passed, so Amigone's facility was grandfathered in. The State Cemetery Board ruled, if the crematory is moved, Amigone loses that grandfather protection.
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