Stow Mayor Sara Drew raised some concerns as she addressed council and the community at a city council meeting held on Dec. 13.
Currently, one controversial legislation has continued into 2013 as city council is reviewing a request made by Redmon Funeral Home to use cremation equipment Owner Keith Redmon said the family wants to offer customers the service of cremation at their establishment, but must get the councils permission before doing so. At this time, families seeking cremation services have to look outside of the community.
If approved, Redmon Funeral Home would be the only funeral home in Stow able to provide cremation services.
At the meeting, Drew asked council if they as an organization “were functioning in a manner that reflected an outstanding local government.”
Drew raised her concerns as she addressed council and the community.
“I have become increasingly concerned that our actions do not live up to these ideals and I am asking each of you to join me to recommitting ourselves to our elected positions and the responsibility that each of us has to this community,” Drew said.
Drew said that it important to support the local businesses in Stow.
“When we fail to support our local businesses and question their motives, we discourage development and needed investment in our city,” Drew said. “All applicants whether they are businesses or individuals must have faith that our processes are fair and unbiased.
“Failure to apply fair standards and valid reasoning for decisions made affect the ability for businesses to serve residents and discourages growth and creates an atmosphere of negativity.”
Drew asked council and the community to try to find a balance.
“There is opportunity to find balance that encourages business expansion that is also sensitive to the concerns that may be raised by others,” she said. “I have encouraged council to find that balance both tonight and incoming weeks as you consider pieces of legislation that directly affect some of our local businesses. “
Drew said that council is here to listen to all opinions of community members, and citizens can speak without fear of reprisal and criticism from individual elected officials.
“The local business owners that have made requests of this city are certainly not multi-national corporations with no regard to the City of Stow,” she said. “They are neighbors and our friends, as are the many residents who attended the meetings to express their opinions, both in favor of and opposition to the requests. They are my neighbors and my friends and yours.”
The discussion of the Redmon Funeral Home legislation was heated at the most recent council meeting.
Stow resident Tracy Kosmach and her husband voiced her opposition to the legislation. Kosmach she and her family have lived on Williamson Road since 1986.
“This isn’t about cremation for me. I don’t want anything incinerated in my neighborhood and this isn’t about the Redmons. They are very well respected.
“This isn’t about any family or any small business,” she added. “I don’t think that changing ordinances for a business, regardless of how benevolent or sensitive a business, is appropriate when there is a neighborhood surrounding it," she said.
Lou Ann Redmon addressed council and residents again at the public hearing.
“This has been a long, emotional process for all of us,” Lou Ann Redmon said. “But no more for you than us at Redmon Funeral Home. The choice of cremation is one for the family to make themselves. Those of us at the funeral home have differing feelings and emotions about cremations and none of you know what my feelings are.”
Redmon said the funeral has provided the “most up to date, reputable information” about the issues of safety and location of a crematorium.
“The EPA is on our side on this issue,” she said.
Redmon said The Akron Air Quality Management was also on their side on the issue.
Locally, all area crematories are adjacent to schools, residences, churches, playgrounds, and senior centers, Redmon said.
“Cremation is a normal, safe function of a funeral home and is increasing demand by our society. Forty percent of the families that we serve chose cremation as the final disposition of their loved ones body. No matter what the outcome of tonight’s vote, this issue is not going to go away. No matter how much all of us wish that would happen.”
Council has tabled this item until its next meeting, the week of Jan. 7.