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State delays hearing on proposed crematory for pets


SILVER RUN -- State officials again have postponed a hearing requested by citizens opposed to a pet crematory here, this time because the citizens' attorney needs time to prepare a case.

The hearing was scheduled at 9:30 a.m. next Tuesday and Wednesday at Western Maryland College. It had been postponed earlier from late July at the request of the Columbia businessman who wants to open the crematory.

A spokeswoman for the state Office of Administrative Hearings in Lutherville said yesterday a new date had not been set.

Iven Rathbone, who heads Silver Run and Union Mills Citizens for a Healthy Environment Inc., said the group hired a Baltimore lawyer who specializes in environmental law to represent them at the hearing.

The lawyer, G. Macy Nelson, of Anderson, Coe & King, asked the state July 27 for a 30-day postponement, in part to have time to adequately prepare for the case.

In a letter to the hearing office, Mr. Nelson also claimed:

* That the state's notice telling the citizens they had a right to a hearing was "defective and legally deficient" because it didn't include information about their right to present witnesses and documents at the hearing.

* That the proposed hearing site, Decker Auditorium at Western Maryland, would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because it is not accessible to the handicapped.

Mr. Nelson is on vacation and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The residents oppose a plan by Jerry Rosenbaum to open a pet crematory in an old cannery in an industrial zone off Littlestown Pike near Mayberry Road.

Mr. Rosenbaum said he owns a 10,000-square-foot building in the industrial area and plans to install an incinerator to handle 240 dogs and cats -- one at a time -- a month.

In February, the Maryland Department of the Environment said it would grant Mr. Rosenbaum a permit to operate the crematory because his incinerator could meet state emissions standards.

Residents fear the crematory will hurt air quality and their health, contaminate wells, harm property values and generate more traffic.

More than 100 residents have raised $1,600 to pay Mr. Nelson's fee, which is expected to be about $5,000, Mr. Rathbone said.

Mr. Nelson, in turn, hired Marc D. Donohue, a professor of chemical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, for $500 to review documents in the case.

Mr. Donohue said he is studying what kinds of emissions might be generated at the facility. He said he does not expect there could be toxic emissions because burning animals are made of organic matter that would not generate toxic materials.

But cremating animals could cause odors "that might be a nuisance to neighbors," he said. The odors could be caused by burning fur and might smell something like rotten eggs, Mr. Donohue said.

The professor said he chemically analyze dog fur, calculate what compound would be formed when the fur is burned and at what level there might be a smell.

"I won't find anything earth shattering, to be honest," he said. "If the facility is run right, I don't think there will be odors. But I'm willing to look into it."

Mr. Rathbone said the citizens group also is exploring if the crematory would violate zoning laws.

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