As a resident of Radnor Winston in north Baltimore, I am writing in response to The Baltimore Sun’s article about the Vaughn Greene funeral home’s attempt to install a human crematorium on the York Road corridor (”Govans neighborhood fights crematorium from community fixture Vaughn Greene Funeral Services,” May 10).
I and many of my neighbors value Vaughn Greene as a long-standing, stabilizing business on York Road, but this dense residential location is absolutely the wrong location for a crematorium and the toxic, particulate pollutants it will emit. The business zoning for this area is extremely narrow and the funeral home is surrounded by packed row houses full of families with children, multiple senior citizen residences, a highly active post office, main bus line, restaurants, and multiple houses of worship. Many homes are as close as 150 feet from the proposed crematorium.
An alarming number of residents suffer from elevated rates of childhood and adult asthma, lung disease and cardiovascular disease. If we’re being honest about it, the burden of air pollution emissions would be on the majority Black neighborhoods east of York Road, an historically segregated, heavily redlined area. This is an environmental justice issue, which, now more than ever, must be openly named and addressed head on.
We — the community, the zoning board, politicians and businesses — have a chance to stop practices that serve the values of commerce but that do not serve and, in fact, inflict pain on, on our communities of color primarily. I and my concerned neighbors on both the east and west sides of York Road envision a healthy, vibrant community and not one that continues to be sacrificed to the forces of economic growth with little regard for the health of its residents. Additional sources of air pollution will degrade the overall livability of this struggling, beautiful, challenged and vibrant place we call home.
We call on the zoning board to help us do the work of community strengthening and deny the application for a crematorium.
Lia Purpura, Baltimore
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