Fayetteville crematory decision: Approve with tests

After having heard everyone’s opinion on this matter, I believe the major issue has to do with the potential release of mercury and other toxins. I believe everyone is in agreement there is no smoke or smells or outside noise associated with today’s crematoriums.This was verified by Jahnee Prince, director of Planning and Zoning and P&Z Commissioner Mr. Collins when they visited a crematorium in Newnan that is also downtown and near a park.

But when it comes to toxins being released, especially mercury, data online supports both sides of the issue, although I found it difficult to find reports with actual numbers cited from actual scientific tests.

The problem we face here in the United States is that there is no commission or governing body tasked with regulating crematoria emissions.

So, here we have Mowell Funeral Home, which has been in the community for over 40 years, wishing to add a “state-of-the-art retort.” (A retort is the machine that burns the bodies.) Mowell Funeral Home has stated that cremation is almost 40 percent of their business now and they have been having to drive bodies to another crematorium and then be in charge of bringing the ashes back; therefore they wish to have a retort next to their own mortuary.

There have been several testimonies as to the need of a crematory in Fayetteville, notably by Debbie Britt representing Piedmont Fayette Hospital. Mowell claims the retort he wishes to purchase is the newest design and has a 24-hour monitoring system which does not emit any mercury or toxic fumes to be released, according to the manufacturer.

As to Mr. Feldman’s plea, I agree that having a crematory across the street is rather disconcerting, but so is having a mortuary, and obviously that has not affected him or real estate prices or commerce on Jeff Davis over the last 40 years. Andrew Billingsly, who lives right next door to the mortuary stated he is in favor of a crematory and Alfred Dingler, who lives behind Mowell’s Mortuary and owns a business on Jeff Davis, also supports a crematory on the Mowell Property.

But, because Mowell Funeral Home is downtown and on the same street as other historical homes and to the rear of it is the new Church Street Playground, there are people, especially the mothers who take their children to Church Street Park and Mr. Feldman who feel threatened by the possibility of toxins being released and the accumulative affect of mercury, especially when it comes to developing babies and children.

They acknowledge dentists are using less and less mercury fillings, but since most of those dying nowadays are babyboomers with amalgam fillings they fear up-front contamination is eminent. Of course, their fears cannot be taken lightly as there is no oversight of emissions. Public safety always trumps everything else.

So I will move to:

Allow the special exception for Mowell to build a crematorium with a single retort with these requirements:

That Mowell agrees to having the soil tested in the nearby playground and 10 feet from the stack on the prevailing downwind side every six months for five years by UGA’s soil testing department and if there is ever any indication that the mercury level has risen, then Mowell must install an additional filtration system (BAT) to remedy the situation, after which soils testing for mercury shall be continued. There should be a pre-crematory baseline test done as well. These tests run around $50 each and should be paid for by Mowell and a copy of the test results given to the City of Fayetteville.

The crematory building architecture must reflect the historical district and be as unobtrusive as possible.

That if the Mowell Funeral business should ever dissolve or be bought out, that this crematorium can never be used as a stand-alone crematorium.

Kathaleen Brewer
City Council member
Fayetteville, Ga.