STOW: City Council addressed legislation that has sparked debate within the community at a public hearing Thursday evening.
Redmon Funeral Home owner Keith Redmon has requested permission to install cremation equipment in order to offer the service to customers. However, residents who live near the funeral home have voiced opposition to the proposal.
After council tabled the issue Monday because it was unable to record the minutes, it continued the third reading of the proposed Redmon Funeral Home crematorium legislation on Thursday.
Once again, discussions ended with council motioning to table the legislation and have it referred back to committee on Jan. 7.
If approved, the Redmon Funeral Home would be the only funeral home in Stow able to provide cremation services. Stow currently has two funeral homes operating in the city: the Redmon Funeral Home and the Dunn-Quigley Funeral Home.
At Monday’s public hearing, John Kitchen, senior pastor at Stow Alliance Fellowship, said he came to the meeting to speak in favor of the legislation. He currently resides on Elm Road, near the funeral home located at 3633 Darrow Road.
Kitchen said he has seen nothing that would create an alarm in him as a resident and neighbor of the funeral home and certainly nothing that would cause alarm for him as a father raising his children.
Kitchen has lived in the community for the past 11 years. During his work as a senior pastor, he has worked with the Redmons frequently over the years when they sought people to help in times of bereavement.
“The Redmons are not only wonderful professionals but they were truly compassionate, caring and sought to do what is best for their customers,” Kitchen said during meeting. “They have been long residents and contributors to this community. Their excellent reputation has been earned one family at a time in those darkest hours of their lives. They have proven again and again that they cared about the people of this community.”
Kitchen said he did not believe that the proposed legislation before council now is a choice for business first, but rather what is best for the whole of the community.
On the opposite side of the matter, Mark Ryland resides on Thorndale Avenue in Stow and teaches in the field of neurodiagnostics, a study of electrical activity in the brain and nervous system, at Cuyahoga Community College.
In a letter to council that was read Monday evening, Ryland said:
“I am opposing the proposal to allow the Redmon Funeral Home to operate a crematorium. It has been demonstrated that crematoriums cause the release of mercury which is known to be neurotoxic and ototoxic, meaning it causes damage to the nervous system and to hearing.”
Ryland said the damage caused is permanent. He said mercury’s effects are synergistic, meaning the effects are magnified by the exposure to other toxic agents as well as various viruses and bacteria.
“As both a technologist and clinician, I have seen the devastating effects that neurological and audiological disorders have on the lives of patients and their families,” he said.
Although there seemed to be many opposed to the legislation, several community members voiced their support of the legislation.
The Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber voiced their support of the Redmon’s request, along with the president of Tallmadge Asphalt Michael Sekulich, at Thursday’s public hearing.
Council addressed the residents present at the council meeting.
Councilwoman Mary Bednar said, “Character does count. We need to look at what is in front of us in black in white on a piece of paper.
Bednar said that she did do her research on the matter and found through her own research on Google Scholar that most mercury emitted from a crematory never reaches the soil.
There seemed to be a consensus among council that they were not ready to vote on the item.
“That’s where I really have some strong feelings. I like to plan for tomorrow but you have to live for today,” said John Pribonic, vice president of council.
Councilman Mike Rasor said he was opposed to the legislation.
“I just bought a house in Stow two months ago. If I don’t want it happening next to my house I won’t vote for it to happen next to your house,” Rasor said.