COMMUNITY CULTURAL STATEMENT

Dear Sir/Madam 

In addition to the previous letter submitted to the Planning Committee on September 7th and signed by more than 500 local residents in Tucker, we are again writing to express our strongest opposition to the proposed crematory in Tucker area by Bill Head Funeral Home.  We would like to reiterate and elaborate on the reasons we presented previously, i.e., property value depreciation, cultural offense, and environmental hazard.

A recently published study in a scientific journal of Economics by Penn State University concluded that property values within a half-mile circle around a crematory service caused property value loss in a Wyoming town that was the subject of the research.[1] A half-mile circle around the proposed crematory is heavily populated residential areas. Property owners within the proximity are extremely concerned and strongly against the proposal.

Second, according to an article appeared in the Atlanta Journal of Constitution[2] the county of Gwinnett is now a truly multi-ethnicity and multi-culture county. There is a huge presence of Asian and African communities around the proposed crematory. Those communities prefer keeping a distance from crematories. For example, as Dr. Barbara Bailey mentioned on September 7th, Islamic culture does not approve cremating human bodies. Several South Asian cultures, e.g., Nepal and certain parts of India, disapprove cremation as well. Traditional Chinese culture considers cremation as impiety.[3] Our community’s residents moved in with a belief or expectation that no crematory would be built and will consider leaving if a crematory is built on the proposed site.

Third, while Mr. Head’s representative stressed on that “no evidence” exists for the environmental hazard of a crematory, the scientific evidence indicates otherwise.[4] Because of the potential environmental hazard, Georgia Code O.C.G.A. § 43-18-72 states that a crematory should “… not be located within 1,000 feet of a residential subdivision…”  Our residing families are also very concerned about the fact that there are three daycare facilities and a home for the elderly very close nearby.

We also want to point to an additional unintended consequence of the crematory. If it is built, the housing prices will be driven down as we have argued, given that many residents might start leaving or potential buyers looking elsewhere. This will lead to much lower county revenue from property tax.

In summary, we would really appreciate if members of the Commission will examine and consider this and other evidence the opposition has presented. Many of the minority residents concerned came to Gwinnett to pursue their American dream. They’ve settled down with a home; they’ve been naturalized or are in the process of doing so; and they have confidence that democracy as an American ideal will not be trampled by business interests; that elected officials will make a sound judgment and decision favorable to the communities they serve.

We thank you for your consideration.


References:

[1] Agee, Mark D. and Crocker, Thomas D. (2010) Directional heterogeneity of environmental disamenities: the impact of crematory operations on adjacent residential values, Applied Economics, 42: 14, 1735 — 1745

[2] http://www.ajc.com/news/ Thursday, June 10, 2010,

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cremation

[4] (see, e.g., Mari and Domingo, 2010; Wang et al., 2003)

Mari M, Domingo JL. (2010) Toxic emissions from crematories: a review. Environ Int. 2010, 36(1):131-7.

Wang LC, Lee WJ, Lee WS, Chang-Chien GP, Tsai PJ. (2003) Characterizing the emissions of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans from crematories and their impacts to the surrounding environment. Environ Sci Technol. 2003, 37(1):62-7.

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