Niagara Gazette

July 20, 2013

Amigone may move town crematory

By Jessica Bagley jessica.bagley@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Amigone Funeral Home is considering moving the crematory to the other side of its Sheridan Drive property in the town, the owner of the facility said Tuesday. 

Owners of Amigone asked the Erie County Legislature to hold a hearing on moving the operation to the corner of Parker Boulevard and Sheridan Drive — just a few hundred feet from its current location. 

A resolution setting the hearing for Sept. 9 will come before the body during Thursday’s session, Legislator Kevin Hardwick said.

”Amigone indicated to us that without the hearing, they would reopen at their current location July 30,” Hardwick said. “So now the assumption is that they won’t reopen, which is a good thing.”

Anthony Amigone, the owner of the funeral home company, said he wants to give residents the chance to air their concerns. 

”We want to satisfy the residents before we move the crematory,” he said.

But Amigone also responded to his neighbors’ claims. 

”We have never had any body parts or smell problems,” he said. “It seems like this is a bandwagon cause. I practically live in this building. My kids are here, my grandchildren work in this building. But at the hearing, the neighbors can express themselves. And we can tell them some of the facts that aren’t dreamt up by people.” 

Hardwick said that if Amigone moves the crematory to the other side of the property, the Erie County legislature would first have to designate that area as cemetery land, even though the company already owns it. 

If Amigone chooses to reopen in its current location, it must give the state attorney general’s office two weeks notice. 

The discussion comes more than a year after Amigone signed an agreement with the state attorney general’s office consenting to halt crematory operations for six months. The agreement came amid resident complaints about noxious smells and alleged sicknesses from the crematory’s emissions. 

When the contract was signed, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said he reserved the right to file charges against Amigone if the company began using the crematory. He instructed the company to find a way to reduce emissions or move the operation. 

Then, in early 2013 after the agreement expired, Amigone attempted to move the crematory to Cooper Avenue. Although the area is closer to the town’s industrial zone, residents in that area took issue with the plan. 

Those residents’ fears were alleviated when the state cemetery board ruled that Amigone couldn’t move the crematory. 

In the state’s determination, the board said that combined funeral entities and crematories were prohibited in a decision in 1998, but that through a grandfathering exception, Amigone was allowed to continue operating its combined facility on Sheridan Drive.

“This provision only permits the funeral entity to continue to operate the same crematory it was operating before that date,” the board states.

As a result, the board said that under the law, there is “no authority for moving a crematory operation to a new location.”

Amigone then challenged the state decision, but in March, it was upheld by Erie County Supreme Court Justice John Michalek — putting the funeral home company in a state of limbo. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley