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Case of proposed animal crematorium in Street heard by Harford Council

BY BRYNA ZUMER, bzumer@theaegis.com

4:24 PM EDT, April 4, 2013

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A proposed animal crematory on a Street farm and its possible effects on neighbors were the focus of a zoning appeal before the Harford County Council on Tuesday.

The case was heard by a Zoning Hearing Examiner Robert Kahoe Jr. last year. Brad Stover, representing applicants Carl and Brenda Nash, said the examiner granted the special zoning exception for the crematorium to be built the 77.5-acre farm at 1106 Heaps Road but included 11 conditions, such as requiring the crematorium to be on a concrete pad, providing a holding area for the animals before they are incinerated and providing some type of enclosure around the property.

The incinerator would also be limited to one animal at a time and regulations about the manner in which animals are stored and brought onto the property were mentioned, he said.

County Council President Billy Boniface said the council would not vote on the issue Tuesday night but would let the parties involved know when a vote would happen.

During the final augments, one man in the audience began shouting at the county council members, demanding he be allowed to talk during the hearing, and was quickly escorted out by security guards. He was identified after the hearing as another resident of Heaps Road who has previously expressed concern with the crematorium.

The man continued yelling after guards took him out of the council building, but he was not arrested and ultimately calmed down and left, the guards said.

Stover, meanwhile, explained the property is zoned for agricultural use, said traffic impacts will be minimal as the crematorium will be limited to disposing of one animal per day and the operation would continue the farming tradition in Harford County.

"It's a lengthy process and we are at the beginning of it," he said about the zoning process.

He also said the operation would not violate the ag preservation easement that the property is in, saying the examiner found that use to be consistent.

Lisa Sheehan, the people's counsel who represents neighbors opposed to the crematorium, said the zoning hearing examiner heard three nights of "highly contested" testimony from "a lot of disgruntled neighbors who were very upset about the possibility of a large scale animal crematorium in their backyard."

She said it is not an appropriate use for the property as it would not be a limited business and too many factors are unknown.

"This is a full-blown commercial operation," she said. "The issue, is what are you going to have coming on the ag preservation property? When you're bringing in dead animals from around the county, around the state, possibly out of state, you don't know what you're dealing with. You don't know what you're bringing on to that piece of property."

She also said the impact on Broad Creek, which residents use for fishing or other purposes, is unknown.

The residents of Grande View Drive cherish their "very unique community with 55 homes, with its own lake and walking trail," Sheehan said, wondering if the crematorium would affect those residents.

She said she does not know what condition the animals will be in when they are transported through the neighborhood, adding that even though one of the conditions from the zoning hearing examiner was that they not be visible from the trucks, it is unrealistic to enforce that.

Brenda Nash said after the hearing that there are other similar crematories throughout Harford County. She also said none of the neighbors had approached her or Carl Nash personally about their concerns.