STOW: The Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal to revise the city’s zoning code to allow funeral homes to install cremation equipment.
The commission’s vote Tuesday evening sends the controversial issue to the City Council’s Planning Committee for review.
In July, Keith Redmon of Redmon Funeral Home withdrew a similar request after meeting with Mayor Sara Drew. He said residents needed more information on the subject to feel comfortable with the request.
Redmon addressed planners and residents at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We have obviously looked into this,” he said. “We would not do something that we felt was dangerous to our neighbors, to our families and to our staff.”
Redmon said he can’t guarantee that property values will not decrease in the area around his Darrow Road parlor, but said he does not want that to happen.
“We still feel strongly that the best way to serve our families is in the facility that we have.”
Planning Commission Chairman David Kohlmeier said that even if he lived near the proposed crematorium, he wouldn’t vote against the zoning change.
“All the evidence to me indicates that there is not a local health hazard,” he said.
Kohlmeier said he had an opportunity to visit the crematorium at Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home in Cuyahoga Falls with Stow Planning Director Rob Kurtz while a cremation was taking place.
“We didn’t even know there was a cremation going on,” Kohlmeier said. The only noise they heard was a small hum, he said.
“I think there is a lot of misinformation out there, and I can’t see a problem with it,” Planning Commission member Pete Mihelik said.
But some neighbors did see a problem with the 5-0 vote.
“We are not happy with the commission’s decision,” Stow resident Mike Kosmach said. “The people who live in that area do not want this. By no means are we done fighting this. We are definitely in it for the long haul.”
Jeremy McIntire, who lives across the street from Redmon Funeral Home, said it was “pointless to have us residents at the meeting.”
“All of their minds were already made up,” he said. “Nobody cares what we have to say.”
McIntire said he and other neighbors are not opposed to allowing a crematorium in Stow, but they are just against one in their backyard.
“I have no problem protesting this,” he said.
The council’s Planning Committee is expected to address the proposed zoning revision at its next meeting, 5:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at City Hall.
Heather Beyer can be reached at email@example.com.