Bethel, CT

 

VICTORY for BETHEL, CT!

Plans for a Bethel Crematorium Go Up In Smoke, Bethel P&Z Denies All Crematorium Applications

P&Z resolution: “The Commission finds that the Special Permit application for locating a crematory use in the subject location will not promote the public health, safety and general welfare of both commercial and residential properties as well as those that may work or reside in them.”

Report by Paula Antolini
September 23, 2015 3:24PM EDT
 
BA1_0091P&Zcommissionallwoval
Photo above: P&Z Commission members seated for the crematorium “work session” are all but Sandy Foreman, second from right.  Also Lou Valenti was seated for the work session but is not in the photo.  Left to right are Commissoners: Don Brown, John Lennon, Bob Legnard, Chairman Pat Rist, Kitty Grant, Sandy Foreman and Earl Finch.
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Plans for a Bethel Crematorium Go Up In Smoke, Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) Denies All Applications from B. Shawn McLoughlin for a Crematorium in Bethel

Bethel residents and business owners were victorious last night, in their 2-year quest to stop a crematorium from being approved for Bethel’s IP Zone.

At last night’s Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) meeting, on September 22, 2015, the P&Z denied all applications from B. Shawn McLoughlin to build a crematorium at 12 Trowbridge Drive, in Clarke Business Park in Bethel, CT.  McLoughlin wanted to add the structure (actually became 2 buildings in later submissions) to the same property where he operates Mono-crete Step Co. LLC, a cement products company.  The decision of the P&Z also includes prevention of any crematoriums in Bethel’s entire IP Zone too, such as Berkshire Corporate Park at 2 Parklawn Drive, Bethel CT.

The crematorium issue has been discussed for approximately two years.   There were public hearings on April 14, 2015, May 12, 2015, June 16, 2015, July 15 2015, and July 16, 2015, where the applicant gave testimony, submitted building plans, submitted correspondence from business owners, and brought forth a realtor and a representative of the company from which the applicant was purchasing the crematory equipment, to give testimony and answer questions from the P&Z.  The P&Z also received public comment and correspondence from residents and business owners at these hearings.

Following were three more P&Z meetings on Aug. 8, 2015, Sept. 8, 2015, and Sept. 22, 2015, where during “work sessions” the P&Z discussed matters further.  The public could observe these meetings but could not offer comments.

The vote was 4 to 3 to deny the applications.  Voting to DENY were Commissioners Don Brown, Earl Finch, Lou Valenti and Chairman Pat Rist.  (Voting to APPROVE were Commissioners Kitty Grant, Bob Legnard, John Lennon.)

Applicant B. Shawn McLoughlin and also his attorney Peter Olsen refused to give a statement to Bethel Advocate after then meeting.
BA2_0092mcloughlinsandlawyers
Above photo: Crematorium applicant B. Shawn McLoughlin (2nd from left) and daughter Shelby McLoughlin (far left) stand in the CJH Municipal Center hallway after the crematorium applications were denied by the P&Z.  Attorneys for both sides chat after the meeting, applicant’s attorney Peter Olsen (2nd from right) and counsel for Bethel Land Use & the P&Z, (far right) Charles Andres.

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Reasons given for denying the applications were numerous.  See below for some of the resolution statements by the P&Z.

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Regarding the “RESOLUTION OF DENIAL, BETHEL PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION, SPECIAL PERMIT AND SITE PLAN FOR A CREMATORY FACIITY AND INDUSTRIAL BUILDING, SPECIAL PERMIT FOR EXCAVATION AND FILL ACTIVITY, 12 TROWBRIDGE DRIVE”

The P&Z resolution stated: “The applicant failed to meet Section 8.5.C.5 of the Zoning Regulations which states: ‘The applicant shall bear the burden of demonstrating that the applicable Special Permit Criteria in Subsection 8.5.E of these regulations are addressed.’  Our regulations provide that the applicant bears the burden of establishing that the special permit criteria have been satisfied, and we find that the applicant has failed to satisfy that burden for these applications.”

The P&Z also denied the application because, “The Commission finds that the Special Permit application for locating a crematory use in the subject location will not promote the public health, safety and general welfare of both commercial and residential properties as well as those that may work or reside in them.”

The P&Z felt that “the location of the proposed crematorium facility is ill-suited at the proposed location on the site” and stated reasons of “excessive excavation and fill activity needed to prepare the site for development” and that it was “in close proximity to adjacent businesses” and also referred to its “proximity to the street … proximity to Sympaug Pond … proximity to an adjacent organic farm on Turkey Plain Road … proximity to residential homes” and proximity to “Town-owned land at the end of Trowbridge Drive.”

The P&Z resolution stated, “The applicant has not demonstrated that the proposed use in the proposed location will not cause harmful health effects to neighboring properties or their occupants and has not demonstrated that the use will not cause  loss in value of property or economic development potential.”

When reviewing a “Special Permit application” many topics are addressed by the P&Z including “Environmental Protection and Conservation” (as stated in Section 8.5.E.2, Criteria #2, of the Zoning Regulations).  The resolution stated, “The Commission finds that the applicant has not demonstrated to the Commission that natural, scenic, historic, and unique features of the surrounding areas will not be adversely affected by emissions released into the atmosphere from the crematory facility in this location.”

The P&Z also addressed “Overall neighborhood Compatibility” with regard to Section 8.5.E.3, Criteria #3, and stated, “The Commission finds that the applicant has not demonstrated that the proposed crematory use will not have a detrimental effect on neighboring properties and residences and development of the district.”  Sixteen reasons were given, which included reference to testimony given by the Bethel Economic Development Commission (EDC) regarding “plans to expand the Business Park at the end of Trowbridge Drive may be halted due to the proposed crematory use at 13 Trowbridge Drive” and the EDC also referred to “the potential reduced value of adjacent Town-owned property, the loss of marketability and viability of land for development resulting from a potential crematory use in close proximity and use on the same street.”  The testimony from the EDC also stated,“the addition of a crematory use in the Business Park would put it at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting businesses” and “would make a difficult job in marketing quality businesses even harder in a highly competitive marketplace.”

The testimony from abutting business owner Greg Marciano, his business Connecticut Coining, located to the north of the proposed crematory location at 10 Trowbridge Drive, was also a factor in the final decision of the P&Z.  The testimony included concern that, “the proposed location at 12 Trowbridge Drive will be visible from his property … that the proposed location may affect his businesses ability to retain and recruit qualified employees to work adjacent to the proposed crematory building because it will be in full view from their property … that the adjacent business owner at 10 Trowbridge Drive may rethink investing in and expanding his business by another 10,000 square feet and add new employees in the future due to the location of the proposed crematory in proximity to his property … that his business could be located anywhere in the US an that he doesn’t have to stay in Bethel and a proposed crematory next door could influence his decision not to expand and leave the Park and Bethel.”  Marciano said, last night, that he felt that the applicant would likely keep pursuing this cause for years.

There was testimony considered by the P&Z “that new owners across the street at 13 Trowbridge Drive would not have purchased that property on April 1, 2015 had they known of the new regulation allowing crematories in the IP Zone and that one was proposed directly across the street … that in all of the negotiations and contract period prior to he sale that the subject of  crematory was not disclosed to them by any of the realtors involved in the transaction … that the owners of 13 Trowbridge Drive have not occupied their new building and will not invest the intended $100,000 in the property due to the proposed crematory … that the owners of 13 Trowbridge Drive has placed the property up for sale as a direct result of the potential crematory facility being location directly across the street.”  Business owner Mitch Gross was instrumental in past P&Z meetings, in fighting the crematorium in Bethel, with numerous presentations to the P&Z of charts and graphs, regarding his expertise and research in showing the P&Z how the emissions flowed in Bethel using a geographic chart, how detrimental it would be to the public health and welfare, and how property values would be effected negatively.  He also thoroughly researched property value studies referred to from individuals on both sides of the issue, and proved that statements made by the applicant’s attorney Peter Olsen were incorrect.

Testimony from Johnnie Choi, owner of properties in Clarke Business Park at 14-1, 14-2, and 27 Francis Clarke Circle, in Clarke Business Park, was also considered by the P&Z.  The resolution referred to Choi’s actions and said that Choi “has put all three properties in the Park and two other commercial and two other residential properties he owns in Bethel up for sale subsequent to the zoning text amendment adopted in 2014. This is due to a potential crematory in the Business Park.   He now intends to move his busness out of the Park and out of Bethel as a result.”    The testimony from that same owner stated that “he had purchased 27 Francis Clarke Circle with the intention of building a 25,000 s.f. warehouse facility to expand his business and was negotiating with Town officials to purchase additional land to accommodate that sized building.  Those negotiations, however, ceased immediately when the regulations were amended and that property is now for sale.”

The testimony from John Holbrook, owner of the Holbrook Farm on 45 Turkey Plain Road in Bethel, designated as an organic farm, was also instrumental in the final decision of the P&Z.  In the P&Z resolution it states that Holbrook testified that “his designation may be in jeopardy if a crematory is allowed in the Business Park … the prevailing wind travels east from the Park, across Sympaug Pond toward his property and the prospect of toxic particulate emissions settling on the farmland may lead the owner to losing that designation or may create the perception in his customers that the produce and vegetables from the farm are not safe.  The owner indicated that he would likely be forced to close his business as a result.”  Please note that Mr. Holbrook has been in business for over 40 years in Bethel.

The P&Z resolution noted that after the Special Permit was submitted and the P&Z sent the notices out to specific owners of property located within 100 feet of the subject parcel, as required by zoning regulations, “there was a substantial increase in public attendance, public comments, and involvement at each of the public hearings.  The vast majority spoke against the application for reasons of health concerns due to the potential emission of dangerous toxins into the atmosphere resulting from the cremation of human remains within the proposed crematory on the subject property.  There was also serious concern raised by the participating public about the effects the crematory would have on the subject property to nearby commercial and residential property values.”  The P&Z resolution went on to say, “The Commission finds the public testimony as credible and compelling evidence as to the detrimental effect on the neighboring properties and residences and the development of the district.”

The P&Z voted with regard to “Section 8.5.E4, Criteria #4, Suitable Location for Use” of the zoning regulations, which states, “Whether the size of the site, the nature and intensity of operations involved in or conducted with the use, and the location of the site with respect to streets giving access to it are such that the use will be in harmony with the appropriate and orderly development in the district in which it is location and shall promote the welfare of the Town.”  The P&Z found that “the applicant has not demonstrated that the proposed location is suitable for the crematory use.”  They cited, in part, “excessive amounts of excavation and fill activity required to make this location suitable to be developed for only a 5,000 s.f. building … the grade must be lowered upwards of 18 feet in some locations … the building will then sit ten (10) feet above the grade of the adjacent street” as some of the reasons to deny this application.

The resolution stated, “The nature of the Clarke Business Park has changed since its inception in the 1980’s.  This is an intentional effort by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Economic Development Commission to provide an increased pool of potential occupants to reduce vacancies and strengthen the park’s viability.  It is now more of a commercial park more than an industrial park as it began.  Even the name has changed from ‘Francis Clarke Industrial Park’ to ‘Clarke Business Park.’  The type of uses has been expanded by the Planning & Zoning Commission to allow fitness, restaurant, exercise and recreation centers to fill once vacant spaces.  These uses are more open to a larger segment of the population including children and the Commission finds that the proposed use in that location may not only affect those businesses ability to attract or retain customers leading to a loss in revenue.”

With regard to “Section 8.5.E.5, Criteria #5, Appropriate Improvements” that states in part, “a. Whether the design elements of the proposed development will be attractive and suitable in relation to the site characteristics, the style of the buildings in the immediate area, and the existing and probable future character of the development of the neighborhood in which the use is located”; and “b. Whether the location, nature and height of the buildings, walls, and fences, planned activities and the nature and extent of landscaping on the site will be such that the use shall not hinder or discourage the appropriate development and use of adjacent land and buildings or impair the value thereof.”  The P&Z found that, “the location of the building, the location height and depth of retaining walls, change in grade, and planned activities will hinder and discourage the appropriate development and use of adjacent land and buildings and impair the value thereof.”  The P&Z resolution stated, “The height of the two proposed emission stacks will be 33 feet in height.  That means from the street, which is ten (10) feet lower than the grade at the building, the stacks and the resulting emissions will be 43 feet above the street grade and be fully visible from adjoining and neighboring commercial properties as well as residential properties to the east due to topography.  This is not only an unattractive prospect for neighboring property owners because it cannot be screened from view to neighboring properties and occupants, but there is also testimony in the record from those who have expressed objection to viewing or being exposed to the operation of a crematory facility based on cultural and religious beliefs.  We express no opinion on the validity of such perceptions, but whether justified or not, could adversely impact surrounding properties.”

The P&Z resolution referred to the opinion of the real estate agent that was presented by the applicant, that “there would be negligible effects on the value of property in the IP Zone and nearby residential properties” but the P&Z resolution stated that “The applicant did not submit any studies from an appraiser on this issue.” A study had been introduced into the record that showed a direct correlation between a location of a crematory use and a decrease in property values, the decrease was shown to extend for half a mile radius around a crematory facility.  The P&Z resolution stated, “The Commission does not credit the applicant’s real estate agent, and finds that the applicant has not demonstrated that there will not be a negative impact from the proposed development on property values.”

 

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Regarding the “RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN OF BETHEL PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION, REGARDING APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF A PLOT OF LAND AS LOCATION OF CREMATORY FILED BY B. SHAWN McLOUGHLIN AND MONO-CRETE STEO CO. OF CT, LLC FOR 12 TROWBRIDGE DRIVE, BETHEL CT”

The P&Z resolution states, “The Commission, on September 22, 2015, adopted a resolution denying the special permit application for the reasons set forth therein;” and listed, “the Commission believes that the reasons set forth in the denial of the special permit application are also pertinent and relevant to the instant application under Gen. Sat. Section 19a-320;” and “the Commission also finds that the location is inappropriate for the proposed use;” and “the Commission hereby votes to DENY this application.”  Reasons given were that the Commission incorporated the resolution of denial of the special permit application and adopts the reasons for denial to the present application.  “The Commission further finds that the location for the proposed crematory at 12 Trowbridge Drive is not a suitable location for a crematory, given the objections of the surrounding property owners and the failure of the applicant to present credible evidence to demonstrate that surrounding property owners would not be adversely affected by a crematorium to be located at this premises.” 

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A third issue was addressed by the P&Z during the September 22, 2015 work session, a text amendment request by CT Coining Inc., eliminate section 4.3.C .10A crematorium, was approved, but we are still waiting for the official resolution wording on that. This is to take effect by approximately October 1, 2015, after the legal notice is published in newspaper media sometime before Oct. 1, 2015.  This approval removes the crematorium text entirely from the zoning regulations, and means that no crematoriums will be allowed at all in ALL IP Zones of Bethel, CT.

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Bethel Advocate will update you when the legal notices are published, and also will post updates about any future information regarding the crematorium.  There is still a pending court case from applicant  B. Shawn McLoughlin, MCLOUGHLIN, B. SHAWN v. PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION OF THE TOWN OF BETHEL Et Al, number DBD-CV15-6017506-S.  As of September 22, 2015, there is a scheduled date of October 5, 2015, at 9:30a.m. for a conference proceeding.

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To read a history of Bethel Advocate stories about the crematorium in the past two years, CLICK HERE.

 

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SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE TO READ THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE PROPOSED BETHEL CREMATORY. ADDITIONAL PRESS REPORTS TOWARD THE BOTTOM. 

Bethel to consider crematory proposal
Eileen FitzGerald
Updated 11:30 am, Saturday, March 22, 2014

http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Bethel-to-consider-crematory-proposal-5339211.php

BETHEL — For nearly three decades, Shawn McLoughlin’s Mono-Crete Step business has made precast concrete products, including the underground vaults that cemeteries use for casket burial.

But the demand for traditional burials has declined dramatically around the country, while cremations continue to rise.

Now McLoughlin wants his business to change with the times. He is seeking a zone change so he can build a crematorium on his property in the Clarke Business Park on Route 53.

“When I started in the vault business, 15 to 20 percent of deaths were cremations, but that number is close to 50 percent now,” McLoughlin said. “Somebody’s got to do it. There are not enough crematoriums in the state to deal with what’s going on in the industry. We’ve been around a long time and have a good reputation. We have kept our business by being reliable and responsible.”

Connecticut has 18 crematories, including in Oxford, Stamford and Bridgeport. Some states with comparable populations have more. Iowa has 35, Oregon has 65 and Oklahoma has 44.

“I understand that people are queasy about talking about this, but I’ve been in the vault business for a long time and we’re doing a function that is an important function,” McLoughlin said. “The bottom line is it would be a state-of-the art facility.”

It would not be apparent to neighbors what was taking place in his building, he said.

The process calls for a funeral home to deliver a casket by a van, which would be driven into the building before being unloaded, McLoughlin said. With the latest equipment, the facility would reach 1,400 to 1,800 degrees and a two-phase system would eliminate particulate from leaving the chimney and create little smoke.

Town Planner Steve Palmer said the Planning and Zoning Commission will welcome comments on the proposal at the hearing on Tuesday.

“We haven’t had anyone contact us directly, but we anticipate there will be public reaction to the request,” Palmer said. “We’d like to hear what people say about it. The industry is regulated by the state department of health, and we are not certain how much jurisdiction we would have about how it operates.”

McLoughlin’s request is to amend the regulation to allow a crematorium in the industrial park zone by special permit.

The demand is growing for crematoriums is growing nationally and in Connecticut, according to the statistics of the Cremation Association of North America.

In both 2011 and 2012, Connecticut has the third highest percentage of cremations in the New England states and New England has the third highest percentage of cremations among the nine regions in the country.

Cremation has growing appeal in part because it costs less, allows more flexibility in where and when services are held, allows easier transport of remains and serves those without religious affiliations.

A survey by the cremation association found that the poor and the rich chose cremation most often; the poor, because it is less expensive, and those with the highest income because they are less-often affiliated with organized religion and want more flexibility for memorial services.

“We are concerned that this is going to be a capacity issue, that there won’t be enough facilities to handle the demand,” said Barbara Kemmis, executive director of the association, based in Illinois.

“The peak of the baby boomers starting to die is 2020. While most cremation can be done within three to five days now, if demand rises, it could be multiple weeks to get someone’s ashes back. It would be difficult for families.”

BREAKING NEWS: Bethel’s Economic Development Committee Stripped of Power

The EDC no longer has the power to make rules for the Clarke Business Park and all of the present rules will expire on January 15, 2015.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
Dec 30, 2014 10:06PM EDT

Interview with First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ90KhQAQB8&feature=youtu.be

On December 29, 2014 a Special Town Meeting was held in the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center in Bethel at 7:00 p.m. to specifically decide whether or not the power of Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) would be extended for another 10 years. At the meeting First Selectman Knickerbocker clarified that the vote would be specifically on the extension of the power of the EDC for another 10 years and not a vote on the rules of the park.

Mike Boyle, Chairman of the EDC, stated there would be an additional meeting to discuss the park rules on January 15, 2015.
A vote was taken and the motion was defeated 28 (no) to 26 (yes). This outcome not only means that the EDC no longer has the power to make rules for the Clarke Business Park but that all of the present park rules will expire on January 15, 2015, and there will be no rules, and there is no one to oversee the business park, according to First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker. He said that it will now fall back to the Planning and Zoning Commission, but not in the capacity that the EDC had been handling matters.

Knickerbocker’s exact words were, “The vote tonight was whether or not the power to the Economic Development Commission should be extended by ten years. Right now the Economic Development Commission works in conjunction with the Planning and Zoning Board. Planning and Zoning establishes the basic parameters of land use for the entire town of Bethel, including Clarke Business Park. The Economic Development Commission, just for Clarke Business Park, also imposes some rules and regulations, like are the buildings esthetically pleasing, are there restrictions, like can companies park trucks out there by the road, or must they be behind, you know, certain screening, where can they store materials so that they’re out of sight, so the park maintains a pleasant businesslike atmosphere. So the question on the ballot tonight was whether the EDC should retain that authority to impose those rules. And the answer was no, it should not. The vote was 26 in favor of extending that authority and 28 opposed to it, so the motion failed, so effective January fifteenth the authority of the EDC to regulate anything will expire.” He continued, “There will be no rules. Planning and Zoning will still apply, but that’s just basic land use.”
Knickerbocker was asked who controls who comes into the park now, and similar issues, he replied, “Thats a good question. I think that that will fall in the immediate sense to Planning and Zoning. And they’ve been operating with a different set of rules, a different layer of rules, than the EDC has.”

The EDC has been the stewards of the Clarke Business Park for the last thirty years and the park has run smoothly during that time without any major problems. That is, until recently, when one of the business owners in the park, Mr. Shawn McLoughlin, present owner of Mono-Crete Step Co. of CT LLC, a pre-cast concrete products company at 12 Trowbridge Drive in Clarke Business Park, applied to the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) for a text amendment for the park rules to be changed. He made this request to allow his other proposed business to operate on those same premises, which is that he wants to operate a crematorium. A crematorium is a business that disposes of human remains by incineration, and McLoughlin intends on having three ovens that could incinerate three bodies each, per day, for a total of nine bodies a day, according to a statement made by his attorney Peter Olsen at a past Planning and Zoning meeting regarding this topic.

The News Times incorrectly stated in their August 4, 2014 article, “Crematorium OK’d for Clarke Business Park in Bethel” referring to a July 22, 2014 meeting of the P&Z. This is not the case, only the text amendment was approved, as clearly confirmed to me by P&Z Chairman Pat Rist. She said McLoughlin still has to submit another application to the Planning and Zoning board to have the actual business approved which consists of inspection and approval of building plans and equipment etc.

The EDC firmly took a stand that a crematorium was not in the best interest of the park. The majority of residents and business owners made statements to the same effect at past meetings, that they did not want the crematorium in Bethel. For example, they specifically stated they did not want to see many hearses driving into the park daily. Numerous letters from the public and businesses were also read aloud at P&Z meetings and the majority of correspondence was opposed to the crematorium.
When controversy erupted between the P&Z and the EDC during the last two EDC meetings, regarding who had authority to make and change park rules, and also heated discussions between the EDC and the business owners in the park, over the revised park rules, the situation lead to the Special Town Meeting vote.

However, the notice placed on the town website about the Special Town Meeting never stated that if the EDC’s term was not extended 10 years the EDC power would be completely stripped and all the park rules would expire on January 15, 2015. This is how it stands now.

Regarding the outcome of the crematorium, since the text amendment was approved, what happens with the crematorium, who controls that now? First Selectman Knickerbocker said, “I would assume, at this point, that falls to Planning and Zoning, and as much as Planning and Zoning has approved it, it will go forward.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ90KhQAQB8

A Crematorium is Not in the Best Interest of Bethel Residents

Bethel’s Economic Development Commission, stripped of power, paves the way.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
Dec 30, 2014 10:32PM EDT

Interview with First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ90KhQAQB8&feature=youtu.be

OPINION

At Monday night’s Special Town Meeting Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) was stripped of its responsibility to be the stewards of the Clarke Business Park after a 30 year tenure. This was clearly another step in allowing a crematorium in the Clarke Business Park despite the objections of many Bethel residents, business owners and the EDC over the past 8 months and more.

On December 29, 2014 a Special Town Meeting was held in the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center in Bethel at 7:00 p.m. to specifically decide whether or not the power of Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) would be extended for another 10 years. At the meeting First Selectman Knickerbocker clarified that the vote would be specifically on the extension of the power of the EDC for another 10 years, and NOT a vote on the rules of the park.

A vote was taken and the motion was defeated 28 (no) to 26 (yes). This outcome not only means that the EDC no longer has the power to make rules under which the Clarke Business Park operates, but that all of the present rules will expire on January 15, 2015, and there will be no rules, and there is no one to oversee the business park, according to First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker. He said that it will now fall back to the Planning and Zoning Commission, but not in the capacity that the EDC had been handling matters.

I am not convinced that many people at the meeting were voting specifically on the 10 year extension because there was so much anger from many park business owners about the park rules and how they were handled by the EDC that I believe the vote needlessly took all power away from the EDC by a number of the business owners present who voted no, and will now likely make matters worse for that park. This is because the majority of business owners also did not want the crematorium in the park either, and the EDC was trying to prevent that, in the best interest of the park.

Monday night there was an injustice done to the people of Bethel. Most Bethel voters never got a chance to know what was happening with this meeting, or even know about this meeting, much less vote. Although First Selectman Knickerbocker did his best to visually count the votes, I am not sure the vote count was done accurately, and with a two-vote difference, shouldn’t the count have been done exactly? He counted the NO’s twice but the YES’s once, from his chair. Why? People did not sit down after they were counted (the people who chose to stand the entire meeting) and there were many people standing in the room, doorway, and hallway so how did they know who was counted and who was not, for the yes and no votes when people were asked to stand to place their vote?

I believe this topic called for a town referendum and not a vote where some people were notified of the meeting and others were not. The town may have posted the notice legally on the town website, but it was likely missed by the majority of residents. Also, the date chosen for this meeting, on the Monday after a Christmas holiday, in between Christmas and New Years, could have been chosen better. What’s the rush, since this topic has been ongoing since early last year?
The importance of the vote was not clear in the notice or at the meeting. It certainly was not clear that all park rules and the power of the EDC would be completely eliminated on a successful NO vote. We’ve been had.

During this entire procedure of several public meetings of the P&Z and the EDC in the last 8 months I witnessed controversy between the P&Z and the EDC regarding who was in power to make or change the rules and regulations despite the EDC having capably handled park rules for the last 30 years. This topic was hotly debated by three representatives of the P&Z, Pat Rist, Kitty Grant and Bob Legnard, and the EDC, at the last two EDC meetings. The results were that the EDC set the revised park rules in place and that is where it stood. A subsequent meeting was held by the EDC where public comment was taken again, rules were heavily discussed, and the meeting was then adjourned.

At Monday night’s Special Town Meeting the Chairman of the EDC Mike Boyle stated there would be an additional meeting to discuss the rules on January 15, 2015. During this meeting some of the business owners of the park simply voted to take all power away from the EDC even though they also did not want the crematorium in the park either. This is an interesting predicament, since the EDC was protecting the park from the crematorium allowance.

The controversy began when crematorium applicant Shawn McLoughlin, present owner of Mono-Crete Step Co. of CT LLC, a pre-cast concrete products company at 12 Trowbridge Drive in Clarke Business Park, applied for a text amendment (change of park rules) for his proposed crematorium to be allowed at this same location, also employing his attorney Peter Olsen to help argue the case for him at all meetings, along with himself, his son and daughter. They were a constant presence at meetings, raising there voices many times and attorney Olsen constantly monopolized the meetings with long winded rhetoric. This usually left little time for others to speak. At one EDC meeting I give a lot of credit to Chairman Boyle for insisting that Olsen stick to the topic at hand and not speak about anything other than that, in an attempt to give others equal time to speak.

The EDC firmly took a stand that a crematorium was not in the best interest of the park. I also witnessed the majority of residents and business owners make statements at past meetings to the same effect, that they did not want the crematorium in Bethel. For example, they specifically stated they did not want to see many hearses driving into the park daily, and other issues of concern. Numerous letters from the public and businesses were also read aloud at P&Z meetings and the majority of correspondence was opposed to the crematorium.

I also made a large presentation to the P&Z about many studies pointing out the hazards of the toxic crematorium emissions, namely the poisonous mercury, which turns into a deadly methyl mercury when landing on our water sources and soil, and also studies proving that a crematorium in a town lowers real estate values significantly. But despite all this, the text amendment was passed by a vote of 4 to 3 by the P&Z. The vote was as follows: YES VOTES, P. Rist, B. Legnard, J. Lennon, K. Grant. NO VOTES, E. Finch, D. Brown, L. Valenti.

A crematorium poses numerous health hazards, including toxic vapors, which can get into the water and earth and cause extreme illness and even death. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that exposure to mercury/metallic vapor on the human body, even in chronic low doses, can cause all sorts of negative effects in adults, children and animals, such as birth defects in babies, neurological defects, damage or destruction of nerve tissue, effects to the the visual cortex and the cerebellum (brain section that controls movement and balance) and it can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys, or cause death.

I have to wonder why the voices of Bethel residents are not being heard. This seems to be a repeat of the marijuana dispensary issue of last summer where the majority of voices against it were not heard, or simply ignored during a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting AFTER the fact, where again the ZBA approved the marijuana dispensary against popular opinion. So how can the P&Z allow a business into Bethel that is clearly not wanted by the majority of Bethel residents who presented themselves at the meetings, and those who wrote letters opposing the crematorium, a business that causes a hazard to the health and well-being of Bethel residents? Why did the P&Z approve this amendment in the first place, when the present laws of the park clearly would not allow a crematorium?

Why did the P&Z have an issue with the EDC revising park rules, when it was in keeping with what the EDC decided was in the best interest of the park? This controversy occurred after this particular crematorium issue was not agreed upon between the EDC and the P&Z. To my knowledge the P&Z never had an issue in 30 years previous, to this extreme, with the EDC rule making, so why now? Is this fair? Why is the P&Z pushing so hard to get the crematorium into the park and ignoring not only the majority of individuals that opposed it but also the EDC’s recommendations, who are the stewards of the park?
Four individuals are controlling the fate of the health of Bethel residents and the welfare of our major business park? And now the EDC has been stripped of their power after doing an excellent job for 30 years?

I believe the importance of this meeting was not realized by the majority Bethel residents. The notice to residents did not state that if the 10 year extension was not approved for the EDC, they would be STRIPPED OF ALL POWER to make decisions to keep our business park running smoothly.

I would personally like to thank the EDC members for all their hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of work they have given our community, and for a job well done. Members of the EDC are Michael Boyle (chairman), Bonnie Brown, Noel Gill, Kevin McMahon, Roy Steiner, Sharon Straiton and Jay Streaman. It is very sad to see a process occur that simply unceremoniously ousted these hard working individuals from power and left our business park unattended, in a meeting hardly anyone knew the scope of beforehand.

I urge residents to get involved and prevent this crematorium from coming to Bethel, otherwise it could have a devastating effect to you and your family and pets. The equipment used in crematorium does not prevent mercury vapors from escaping 100%, so at what percent are you willing to risk your life and the life of those you love? Once the methel-mercury enters our water or soil (and there are aquifers all around Clark Business Park) and builds up over time, the effects do not make themselves known until it is too late. Symptoms occur such as neurological diseases, birth defects, to name a few.

Please know I am not against a crematorium business itself but it certainly does not belong where people live or businesses reside, with children and Moms attending a trampoline park or a cheerleading school for instance, or where a bakery makes our food, if the air from a crematorium is producing toxic chemicals at the same time. These types of businesses are presently in Clarke Business Park. I don’t care what other towns do, this is our town and our air/water/soil and we do not want toxins making us sick or killing us. We should not have to fight for clean air! But this seems to be the case.
The law states a crematorium has to be 500 feet from residences, but air does not know to stop at 500 feet and can travel miles, also landing on any and everything in its path, including people working in businesses in the park and customers going to those businesses. In one of the studies I gave the P&Z it showed that the toxic mercury was even in the hair of crematorium workers. See section 7 here: https://no2crematory.wordpress.com/the-toxic-truth-data/

Also with the expansion planned for Clarke Business Park, the EDC was hoping to attract businesses that would provide restaurants with outdoor seating etc. and an entire community where residents and business owners could enjoy an excellent quality of life and improve our town immensely in many ways. But it seems as if the crematorium business is just being pushed into our community, and for some odd reason the P&Z thinks this is okay.

Are we going to stand by and repeatedly let our voices not be heard? Please get involved, attend meetings, and/or write to your officials. The welfare of our town and lives are at stake.

I intend on fighting this issue fully, getting our state representatives involved etc.

Please consider signing a petition I have online (started on April 23, 2014) and get the word out to protect our community:
SIGN PETITION HERE.

See some of the comments below from individuals who have already signed (some are business owners in the park):

Neil Callaghan BETHEL, CT
This is another example of the Bethel process being done in the dead of night, without the knowledge of residents – – secret agendas for the people in charge.

Charles Noe BETHEL, CT
I agree this would be wrong to bring into town . I say have a revote on the EDC

Henry Choi / BETHEL, CT
Allowing a crematorium would be a detriment to the town as a whole, not only will it decrease the property value of homes and businesses, many investors will think twice before moving to a business park that has an establishment of such kind. it’s a deterrent for investors and new businesses who want to do business and bring jobs here in the town. Also, health wise, i would not want to live anywhere nearby a crematorium. I don’t think anyone especially with childrens wants to live nearby. In addition, i would not want to see hearses pass by everyday. The proposed establishment cannot guarantee that the bodies will be transport in unmarked vehicles. This can bring negative emotions and adversely affect psychological beings to many people who works and live near by from the constant flows of hearses.

Dianna Medwid / BETHEL, CT
Bethel is always trying to harm the taxpayer on all issues and this is no different, we need to get more signatures on Grassy Plain and alert the entire area. Thanks

Pat Markstaller / BETHEL, CT
Protect our children’s enviornment

Meghan S. / BETHEL, CT
Why this is even up for debate. Releasing TOXINS into the air which can KILL and Permanently damage our loved ones both current and future, is just plain disgusting. Do you want to be eating dinner with your family knowing that you’re all breathing in death?! Yeah, I don’t think so. DO NOT BUILD THIS. DO NOT RE ZONE. DONT KNOWINGLY KILL US OR CAUSE US HARM!!!

Margaret Waage / SOUTHINGTON, CT
I lived near a crematorium growing up. I don’t remember smoke being an issue per say, but emissions are an issue as we have learned over the years. If there is evidence of harm I’d wouldn’t want to live near one by choice.

Sondra Covino / BETHEL, CT
For the health of my child and the rest of the people in our town. I know for me and my family we are trying our best to get chemicals/pesticides out of our food, cleaning supplies, eating organically, etc. The effects of this do not show up right away but over time it does and by then it’s to late…I cannot agree with this. Thank you- Sondra

Chris LoGiudice / BETHEL, CT
No, this is not the place for this type of business

Manda Hashemi / GREENWICH, CT
I have 2 small kids and I do not want this to effect their health. We live in a nice community and this is NOT the type of business that should be in our community.

Vince Antolini / BETHEL, CT
The health risks, both long and short term, far outweigh any tax benefit to the town.

*****
Here is another interesting story about the effects of mercury poisoning:

In a story from 2002 about the Tri-State Crematory in Noble, Georgia, a crematorium owner, Tommy Ray Brent Marsh, failed to cremate over 300 bodies over the course of years, and was giving his customers cement dust in urns, until his scam was discovered when non-cremated but decomposing bodies were discovered all over his property and in coffins and ovens. In the end his lawyer said that his client’s brain was damaged by mercury poisoning. The recovery and processing of all the bodies cost the state of Georgia millions of dollars. “Police charged Tommy Ray Brent Marsh, who ran the family crematory business, with hundreds of felonies. He later pleaded guilty and remains in prison. More than $100 million was paid out in federal class-action lawsuits against Marsh and the funeral homes that had sent bodies to the crematory. State and local government spent nearly $10 million on cleanup and recovery. No one knows the exact number of families affected, but attorneys in the lawsuits estimated the count at nearly 2,000,” according to the timesfreepress.com.

Marsh’s attorney, McCracken “Ken” Poston, stated, “He had developed mercury poisoning from being exposed to fumes from the silver fillings in teeth as bodies burned, said his attorney. It was as if his mind was in a fog, and he isn’t even able to explain what happened, Poston said.

Read full story here: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/news/story/2012/feb/12/horror-in-noble/70497/

In a scientific explanation for the Tri-State Crematory incident, the theory is “an external, environmental cause claimed not only the literal sanity and judgment of Ray-Brent Marsch, but also the health and ultimately the life itself of his father, Tommy Ray Marsch. Suspect element is mercury.” See section number 7, a through g, here: https://no2crematory.wordpress.com/the-toxic-truth-data/

Petition to Stop the Crematorium in Bethel CT

ATTENTION BETHEL RESIDENTS: Let your voices be heard. We do not want a crematorium in Bethel. Sign the petition.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
Jan 1, 2015 2:17PM EDT

dontletthedeadkillthelivingbutton

*****
Update: January 3, 2013 at 6:01pm
Read more comments from residents (below) just added to the top of the list. One Mom said she would not bring her children to the park if there is a crematorium there.

*****
Original Article: January 1, 2015 at 8:09pm

ATTENTION ALL BETHEL RESIDENTS:
PETITION TO STOP THE CREMATORIUM (incineration of human remains) FROM BEING ALLOWED IN CLARKE BUSINESS PARK IN BETHEL CT (or anywhere in Bethel)….

Read about it here and PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION:
https://www.change.org/p/town-of-bethel-do-not-allow-a-crematorium-incineration-of-human-remains-in-bethel-ct-clarke-business-park-or-anywhere-in-vicinity-do-not-change-the-zoning-permit-which-prevents-this-type-of-business

*****
READ THE COMMENTS BELOW, FROM INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE ALREADY SIGNED THE PETITION (some are business owners in the park):

Sue Cleary / BETHEL, CT, UNITED STATES
I do not want the toxicity in our town.
Denise McMahan BETHEL, CT
Do not allow the crematorium
Elizabeth Archer / BETHEL, CT
I just moved to Bethel and this is not what I want to see moving in near my new home
Marlene Boyer / BETHEL, CT
I will stop visiting the park businesses with my kids if there is a crematorium present.
Neil Callaghan BETHEL, CT
This is another example of the Bethel process being done in the dead of night, without the knowledge of residents – – secret agendas for the people in charge.
Charles Noe BETHEL, CT
I agree this would be wrong to bring into town . I say have a revote on the EDC
Henry Choi / BETHEL, CT
Allowing a crematorium would be a detriment to the town as a whole, not only will it decrease the property value of homes and businesses, many investors will think twice before moving to a business park that has an establishment of such kind. it’s a deterrent for investors and new businesses who want to do business and bring jobs here in the town. Also, health wise, i would not want to live anywhere nearby a crematorium. I don’t think anyone especially with childrens wants to live nearby. In addition, i would not want to see hearses pass by everyday. The proposed establishment cannot guarantee that the bodies will be transport in unmarked vehicles. This can bring negative emotions and adversely affect psychological beings to many people who works and live near by from the constant flows of hearses.
Dianna Medwid / BETHEL, CT
Bethel is always trying to harm the taxpayer on all issues and this is no different, we need to get more signatures on Grassy Plain and alert the entire area. Thanks,
Pat Markstaller / BETHEL, CT
Protect our children’s enviornment
Meghan S. / BETHEL, CT
Why this is even up for debate. Releasing TOXINS into the air which can KILL and Permanently damage our loved ones both current and future, is just plain disgusting. Do you want to be eating dinner with your family knowing that you’re all breathing in death?! Yeah, I don’t think so. DO NOT BUILD THIS. DO NOT RE ZONE. DONT KNOWINGLY KILL US OR CAUSE US HARM!!!
Margaret Waage / SOUTHINGTON, CT
I lived near a crematorium growing up. I don’t remember smoke being an issue per say, but emissions are an issue as we have learned over the years. If there is evidence of harm I’d wouldn’t want to live near one by choice.
Sondra Covino / BETHEL, CT
For the health of my child and the rest of the people in our town. I know for me and my family we are trying our best to get chemicals/pesticides out of our food, cleaning supplies, eating organically, etc. The effects of this do not show up right away but over time it does and by then it’s to late…I cannot agree with this. Thank you- Sondra
Chris LoGiudice / BETHEL, CT
No, this is not the place for this type of business
Manda Hashemi / GREENWICH, CT
I have 2 small kids and I do not want this to effect their health. We live in a nice community and this is NOT the type of business that should be in our community.
Vince Antolini / BETHEL, CT
The health risks, both long and short term, far outweigh any tax benefit to the town.

*****
PREVENT THE CREMATORIUM FROM COMING TO BETHEL.

PROTECT BETHEL’S QUALITY OF LIFE, HEALTH AND WELFARE.

GET INVOLVED.

DON’T LET THE DEAD KILL THE LIVING.

Opinion: A Crematorium is Not in the Best Interest of Bethel Residents
Bethel’s Economic Development Commission, stripped of power, paves the way.
By PAULA ANTOLINI (Star Patcher)
January 1, 2015

http://patch.com/connecticut/bethel/crematorium-not-best-interest-bethel-residents-0

Report, Photography by Paula Antolini

Update: Jan. 1, 2015

OPINION

At Monday night’s Special Town Meeting Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) was stripped of its responsibility to be the stewards of the Clarke Business Park after a 30 year tenure. This was clearly another step in allowing a crematorium in the Clarke Business Park despite the objections of many Bethel residents, business owners and the EDC over the past 8 months and more.

On December 29, 2014 a Special Town Meeting was held in the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center in Bethel at 7:00 p.m. to specifically decide whether or not the power of Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) would be extended for another 10 years. At the meeting First Selectman Knickerbocker clarified that the vote would be specifically on the extension of the power of the EDC for another 10 years, and NOT a vote on the rules of the park.

A vote was taken and the motion was defeated 28 (no) to 26 (yes). This outcome not only means that the EDC no longer has the power to make rules under which the Clarke Business Park operates, but that all of the present rules will expire on January 15, 2015, and there will be no rules, and there is no one to oversee the business park, according to First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker. He said that it will now fall back to the Planning and Zoning Commission, but not in the capacity that the EDC had been handling matters.

I am not convinced that many people at the meeting were voting specifically on the 10 year extension because there was so much anger from many park business owners about the park rules and how they were handled by the EDC that I believe the vote needlessly took all power away from the EDC by a number of the business owners present who voted no, and will now likely make matters worse for that park. This is because the majority of business owners also did not want the crematorium in the park either, and the EDC was trying to prevent that, in the best interest of the park.

Monday night there was an injustice done to the people of Bethel. Most Bethel voters never got a chance to know what was happening with this meeting, or even know about this meeting, much less vote. Although First Selectman Knickerbocker did his best to visually count the votes, I am not sure the vote count was done accurately, and with a two-vote difference, shouldn’t the count have been done exactly? He counted the NO’s twice but the YES’s once, from his chair. Why? People did not sit down after they were counted (the people who chose to stand the entire meeting) and there were many people standing in the room, doorway, and hallway so how did they know who was counted and who was not, for the yes and no votes when people were asked to stand to place their vote?

I believe this topic called for a town referendum and not a vote where some people were notified of the meeting and others were not. The town may have posted the notice legally on the town website, but it was likely missed by the majority of residents. Also, the date chosen for this meeting, on the Monday after a Christmas holiday, in between Christmas and New Years, could have been chosen better. What’s the rush, since this topic has been ongoing since early last year?

The importance of the vote was not clear in the notice or at the meeting. It certainly was not clear that all park rules and the power of the EDC would be completely eliminated on a successful NO vote. We’ve been had.

During this entire procedure of several public meetings of the P&Z and the EDC in the last 8 months I witnessed controversy between the P&Z and the EDC regarding who was in power to make or change the rules and regulations despite the EDC having capably handled park rules for the last 30 years. This topic was hotly debated by three representatives of the P&Z, Pat Rist, Kitty Grant and Bob Legnard, and the EDC, at the last two EDC meetings. The results were that the EDC set the revised park rules in place and that is where it stood. A subsequent meeting was held by the EDC where public comment was taken again, rules were heavily discussed, and the meeting was then adjourned.

At Monday night’s Special Town Meeting the Chairman of the EDC Mike Boyle stated there would be an additional meeting to discuss the rules on January 15, 2015. During this meeting some of the business owners of the park simply voted to take all power away from the EDC even though they also did not want the crematorium in the park either. This is an interesting predicament, since the EDC was protecting the park from the crematorium allowance.

The controversy began when crematorium applicant Shawn McLoughlin, present owner of Mono-Crete Step Co. of CT LLC, a pre-cast concrete products company at 12 Trowbridge Drive in Clarke Business Park, applied for a text amendment (change of park rules) for his proposed crematorium to be allowed at this same location, also employing his attorney Peter Olsen to help argue the case for him at all meetings, along with himself, his son and daughter. They were a constant presence at meetings, raising there voices many times and attorney Olsen constantly monopolized the meetings with long winded rhetoric. This usually left little time for others to speak. At one EDC meeting I give a lot of credit to Chairman Boyle for insisting that Olsen stick to the topic at hand and not speak about anything other than that, in an attempt to give others equal time to speak.

The EDC firmly took a stand that a crematorium was not in the best interest of the park. I also witnessed the majority of residents and business owners make statements at past meetings to the same effect, that they did not want the crematorium in Bethel. For example, they specifically stated they did not want to see many hearses driving into the park daily, and other issues of concern. Numerous letters from the public and businesses were also read aloud at P&Z meetings and the majority of correspondence was opposed to the crematorium.

I also made a large presentation to the P&Z about many studies pointing out the hazards of the toxic crematorium emissions, namely the poisonous mercury, which turns into a deadly methyl mercury when landing on our water sources and soil, and also studies proving that a crematorium in a town lowers real estate values significantly. But despite all this, the text amendment was passed by a vote of 4 to 3 by the P&Z. The vote was as follows: YES VOTES, P. Rist, B. Legnard, J. Lennon, K. Grant. NO VOTES, E. Finch, D. Brown, L. Valenti.

A crematorium poses numerous health hazards, including toxic vapors, which can get into the water and earth and cause extreme illness and even death. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that exposure to mercury/metallic vapor on the human body, even in chronic low doses, can cause all sorts of negative effects in adults, children and animals, such as birth defects in babies, neurological defects, damage or destruction of nerve tissue, effects to the the visual cortex and the cerebellum (brain section that controls movement and balance) and it can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys, or cause death.

I have to wonder why the voices of Bethel residents are not being heard. This seems to be a repeat of the marijuana dispensary issue of last summer where the majority of voices against it were not heard, or simply ignored during a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting AFTER the fact, where again the ZBA approved the marijuana dispensary against popular opinion. So how can the P&Z allow a business into Bethel that is clearly not wanted by the majority of Bethel residents who presented themselves at the meetings, and those who wrote letters opposing the crematorium, a business that causes a hazard to the health and well-being of Bethel residents? Why did the P&Z approve this amendment in the first place, when the present laws of the park clearly would not allow a crematorium?

Why did the P&Z have an issue with the EDC revising park rules, when it was in keeping with what the EDC decided was in the best interest of the park? This controversy occurred after this particular crematorium issue was not agreed upon between the EDC and the P&Z. To my knowledge the P&Z never had an issue in 30 years previous, to this extreme, with the EDC rule making, so why now? Is this fair? Why is the P&Z pushing so hard to get the crematorium into the park and ignoring not only the majority of individuals that opposed it but also the EDC’s recommendations, who are the stewards of the park?

Four individuals are controlling the fate of the health of Bethel residents and the welfare of our major business park? And now the EDC has been stripped of their power after doing an excellent job for 30 years?

I believe the importance of this meeting was not realized by the majority Bethel residents. The notice to residents did not state that if the 10 year extension was not approved for the EDC, they would be STRIPPED OF ALL POWER to make decisions to keep our business park running smoothly.

I would personally like to thank the EDC members for all their hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of work they have given our community, and for a job well done. It is very sad to see a process occur that simply unceremoniously ousted these hard working individuals from power and left our business park unattended, in a meeting hardly anyone knew the scope of beforehand.

I urge residents to get involved and prevent this crematorium from coming to Bethel, otherwise it could have a devastating effect to you and your family and pets.

20150154ba12babbbe0

URGENT: Notice of Public Meeting on Jan. 13, 2015 Regarding the Crematorium

Toxic methyl mercury, hearses, and human remains could soon be approved to pollute our little town of Bethel in 10 days.

Report by Paula Antolini
Jan 3, 2015 5:00PM EDT

crematoriummeetingnotice

OPINION

This may be the last chance for residents to stop a crematorium from coming to Bethel.

In only 10 days another public meeting will take place on Jan. 13, 2015, at the Bethel Municipal Building (see details below). This meeting will likely decide the fate of the proposed crematorium at the Clark Business Park. Although this has been ongoing for more than 8 months, it seems that the crematorium has been given a fast track for approval lately. Bethel residents, are you okay with this?

The announcement of this important meeting was also NOT easily found, and was buried in a print version of the Danbury News Times. It was also on Bethel town’s website but not under the “meetings” heading or on the “calendar” on the front page, or even in “announcements” but rather buried layers deep in the “forms and documents” section and most residents would miss this information easily. It begs the question, “Why”?

Here is a brief summary of the events leading to the upcoming meeting. More than 8 months ago, Mr. Shawn McLaughlin, owner of Mono-Crete Step, LLC, a concrete products company located in the Clarke Business Park, applied to get a crematorium approved in Bethel and hired an attorney to represent him at the public meetings. I personally witnessed meeting after meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) where the majority of the individuals present, and the majority of the correspondence presented, was overwhelmingly opposed to this crematorium. Even most of the business owners in the park were opposed to it at that time. Many complained they did not want hearses driving into the park each day and others sited other issues such as one park business owner saying he would relocate his business out of Clarke Business Park if a crematorium was allowed in the park. So why would the Planning and Zoning Commission, in a 4 to 3 margin, vote YES to approve a text amendment (rule change) that would pave the way for the crematorium? Good question! Who are these elected officials representing, the will of the residents or the applicant? (Those P&Z members voting yes were: Pat Rist, Bob Legnard, Kitty Grant, John Lennon).

After the text amendment (rule change) was approved by the P&Z, the Economic Development Commission (EDC) held two more meetings and invited public comment. Again McLaughlin’s lawyer tried to monopolize the meetings with his long rhetoric but was quickly told to keep to the topic at hand by the Chairman of the EDC, Mike Boyle. This is apparently where the controversy began between the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Economic Development Commission. The P&Z and the EDC members engaged in a power struggle over who was in control of making rules governing the business park. The EDC publicly stated a crematorium was not in the best interest of Bethel and its business park. Since the EDC has been the appointed stewards of the Clark Business Park for the past 30 years and charged with creating and enforcing the regulations governing the park, one would think that would be the end of the crematorium application.

What happened next seemed more like a lynching than a meeting. In a Special Town Meeting on the Monday (Dec. 29) between Christmas and New Year’s the EDC was disbanded by a vote of 28 to 26, 54 individuals at a meeting out of a Bethel population of 18,000+, yet our entire EDC was ousted by 28 individuals? How did this happen? This should have been a referendum.

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker clarified earlier that the vote to be taken was to be on the extension of the EDC tenure ONLY and NOT on the rules. However, it was NOT mentioned that a NO vote would completely strip the power from the EDC and all rules of the park would expire on Jan 15, 2015, either in the notice or words at the meeting. So basically we have no one to oversee the park and no rules for the park starting Jan. 15, 2015. Now Knickerbocker said control falls back to the P&Z, the very commission that keeps approving the crematorium against popular opinion.

To be fair, the entire Board of Selectman voted at that meeting to extend the EDC tenure. The vote count favored of disbanding the EDC by two votes. In my opinion, most of the 28 individuals must have had unfair notification about the purpose of the meeting where the majority of residents were unaware of this Monday night meeting after a holiday. Is this how a democracy is supposed to work?

The day after the EDC was stripped of power, applicant McLaughlin quickly applied to the P&Z for a crematorium permit and a permit for a 5,000 square foot building to be constructed somewhere in the business park. One has to go to the tax assessor or the P&Z in town to find out the exact location. The public meeting is scheduled for January 13, 2015 at 7pm. See below for details.

I urge you to write letters and attend this meeting and give public comment. The health of your family and the quality of life in Bethel as well as the success of our business park of our precious town is at stake. If you do not make a point of participating you will soon see hearses delivering bodies perhaps on a daily basis. The only other crematoriums in Fairfield County are located many towns away. The applicant plans 3 ovens that can cremate 3 bodies each per day for a total of 9 per day, as stated by attorney Peter Olsen at one of the meetings. This could mean thousands of bodies per year. This not only poses a serious health risk due to the toxic by-products that result from mercury (which turns into deadly methyl mercury when landing on our soil or water) but studies show will negatively impact real estate values as well. There are aquifers all over Clarke Business Park, why is this being ignored too?

GET INVOLVED NOW. Please attend the meeting on Jan. 13 and sign the petition (below). This may be your last chance to voice your opinion to let officials know you are opposed to this crematorium.

*****

OFFICIAL NOTICE:

“Planning & Zoning Commission / LEGAL NOTICE”

“Notice is hereby given that the Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public meeting on Jan. 13, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the Denis J. Riordan Meeting Room D, 1 School Street Bethel CT to hear the application of B. Shawn McLaughlin for a site plan/ special permit to construct a 5000sf building, and a special permit for use as a crematory as required by section 4.3 (10a); 4.2 (B) (2) & (D) (1) of the zoning regulations. This property can be found in the Tax Assessor’s Office as map 11, block 23, and lot 250-20A.

At this hearing interested persons will be heard and written communications will be received. Maps are available for perusal in the Planning & Zoning Department, 1 School Street, Bethel Connecticut.
Dated this 30th day of December 2014 at Bethel, Connecticut.”

Signed by Pat Rist, Chairman of P&Z.

*****
Here is the link to the Bethel website notice (buried deep) on the website (as above):
http://www.bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/83/10494/10545/2015-01-13n_public_hearing_%28crematory%29.pdf



*****

PLEASE SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION TO STOP THE CREMATORIUM:

https://www.change.org/p/town-of-bethel-do-not-allow-a-crematorium-incineration-of-human-remains-in-bethel-ct-clarke-business-park-or-anywhere-in-vicinity-do-not-change-the-zoning-permit-which-prevents-this-type-of-business

BREAKING NEWS: Crematorium Protester Spotted on Greenwood Avenue in Bethel Today

Photo shows Bethel resident John Opinski expressing his opposition to the proposed crematorium coming to Clarke Business Park and he posts a reminder to attend the meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m..

Report by Paula Antolini
Photo by Teresa Fogel
Jan 13, 2015 12:30PM EDT

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REMINDER: Attend tonight’s IMPORTANT meeting, Jan. 13, Bethel Municipal Building, Room D, 7:00 p.m, and voice your opposition to the crematorium. A crematorium is not in the best interest of Bethel for many reasons. Also consider signing the petition (see below) if you have not done so already.

The Planning & Zoning Commission will hear the application of B. Shawn McLaughlin (present owner of Mono-Crete Step LLC, a cement products company in Clarke Business Park), for a site plan / special permit to build a 5,000 square foot building and a special permit for use as a crematory. Property can be found at the Tax Assessor’s office, or the Planning & Zoning Dept. (1 School Street, Bethel, CT) on map 11, block 23, lot 250-20A.

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Thank you to Teresa Fogel for capturing and submitting the photo.

Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission Crematorium Meeting Postponed Last Night, Disappointing Many Residents
“No testimony” was allowed at last night’s meeting, poor communication from Bethel town caught residents off guard about cancellation of ability to comment.

Report by Paula Antolini
Jan 14, 2015 8:57AM EDT

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Last night, Tuesday January 13, 2015, disappointed many residents as they arrived to attend the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) meeting to observe the meeting and/or give their comments, regarding the proposed Bethel crematorium. Residents were met by a paper sign on the double doors leading to Room D, where the meeting was to be held in the Bethel Municipal Building at 7:00 p.m., a sign that read that the meeting was “extended” to January 27, 2015, and that “no testimony” would be taken. (See photos.)

Most everyone who arrived to attend that meeting was then surprised to learn, mostly from town official Director/Town Planner Steve Palmer, (Land Use Dept – Planning and Zoning, Inland Wetlands) that there was a notice previously posted previously (3 layers deep) on the town’s website, only 4 days prior to this meeting. If you check the agendas for the P&Z on the Bethel town website you will see that notice listed on the postings BEFORE the notice for the meeting (although dated later), but not labeled “crematorium” as in the meeting notice (and so, easily missed). See: http://www.bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/83/10494/10545/2015-01-13a.pdf As you can see it is a group notice referring to many “extended” meetings and listed under the agendas as “2015-01-13a.pdf.”

The Jan. 9, 2015 extension notice lists the applicant “B. Shawn McLaughlin” and also says “site plan/special permit crematorium” as the topic, along with “public hearing will be continued to 1/27/15, no testimony.” I just spoke with Palmer this morning and he clarified this, saying that the “no testimony” meant testimony would not be taken LAST night but testimony WOULD be taken at the 1/27/15 meeting.

Interesting note, as you scroll down the second notice about the meeting extensions, under “other business” you will see “Moratorium on Medical Marijuana Facilities.” Did you know Bethel was discussing this?
Getting back to the crematorium issue, an original notice was received and posted by the town of Bethel on Dec. 30, 2014, about the public meeting to occur on Jan. 13, 2015, concerning the approval of a site plan permit and crematorium permit for the proposed crematorium in Clarke Business Park in Bethel, CT. See: http://www.bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/83/10494/10545/2015-01-13n_public_hearing_%28crematory%29.pdf

The reason for last night’s meeting “extension” (and basic cancellation of anyone being able to give comments) was the P&Z claimed they had to still do a “site walk,” which is to occur this Saturday, Jan. 17, at 10:00 a.m.. The public is invited. The proposed location of the crematorium is in the Clarke Business Park off Grassy Plain Street (Route 53), at the same location of the applicant’s present business, Mono-Crete Step Co. LLC, 12 Trowbridge Drive, Bethel, CT 06801.

Wouldn’t you think that at that time the P&Z planned the Jan. 13 meeting notice, the P&Z KNEW they would need to do a site walk beforehand? Why was this just decided 4 days before the public meeting was to take place, preventing residents from giving comments at the Jan. 13 meeting? As previously mentioned, most residents were very surprised to find this out upon arrival last night.

So basically the only procedure the P&Z did at the meeting last night regarding the crematorium was to read the Dec. 30, 2014 notice again and decide on a time and day for the site walk, then the meeting was adjourned for that part or the crematorium procedure.

Please do not get frustrated by these meeting postponements, and plan on attending the January 27, 2015 meeting to voice your opinion about the crematorium, or ask questions, of the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Regarding the crematorium, the resident numbers are growing as far as those who are opposed to the crematorium, as more people become aware of this issue. I am pleased to report interest in researching more about the crematorium topic is also growing. Realization that this is a real threat to the health and welfare of our community, along with a threat to our real estate values, is also being realized.

Residents signing the petition is also growing and comments on the petition are very revealing of common sentiment in opposition.

Petition is still ongoing. Please sign it if you have not done so and encourage others to sign.

SIGN PETITION HERE:

https://www.change.org/p/town-of-bethel-do-not-allow-a-crematorium-incineration-of-human-remains-in-bethel-ct-clarke-business-park-or-anywhere-in-vicinity-do-not-change-the-zoning-permit-which-prevents-this-type-of-business

OPINION: The Public is Invited to a Site Walk for Proposed Bethel Crematorium, Starts at 10 a.m.
Get a sneak peek at plans for proposed Bethel crematorium here. (Also available for viewing at tax assessors or land use office.)
By PAULA ANTOLINI (Star Patcher)
January 17, 2015

http://patch.com/connecticut/bethel/public-invited-site-walk-today-proposed-bethel-crematorium-starts-1000-am-0

Report by Paula Antolini
Jan 17, 2015 2:49AM EDT

Be sure to attend the site walk today, Jan. 17, for the proposed crematorium, at 10:00 a.m. at 12 Trowbridge Drive in Clarke Business Park in Bethel, CT. The Planning and Zoning Commission members will be there and the public is also invited.

The proposed building plans for the crematorium are available for viewing at the Tax Assessor’s office or the Land Use office in the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center, 1 School Street in Bethel, CT. Check the town website for office hours.

See a sneak peek of the plans, click here. Shown is one of the pages of the crematorium plans in a close up view and full view, which shows an overview of the placement of the building on the property, and other details, and the applicant’s present building, in proximity. Trowbridge Drive runs down the left side of the two maps. Click on the image to enlarge it. Please note this is only one page of the plans, there is much more including an elevation view.

If approved, the new 5,000 square foot crematorium building would be located in Clarke Business Park, at 12 Trowbridge Drive, the same property where the crematorium applicant has his other business, Mono-Crete Step Co., LLC, a concrete products company.

NOTE: There is also a building diagonally across from the proposed crematorium site that is up for sale at 13 Trowbridge Drive. To see listing click here. I believe this property was listed about a month ago. Description reads, “Elvex Corporation is relocating out of the area and will be vacating the building in March of 2015. For Sale at $1,275,000 but also possible lease at $7.75 s.f. NNN.” A second building is for sale on Grassy Plain at 184 Grassy Plain Street, which is near Francis J. Clarke Circle in the Clarke Business Park. To see listing click here. For sale at $425,000.

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View color map (above) for approximate placement of crematorium (shown with an “X”) and exact property layout with Mono-Crete Step Co. building at 12 Trowbridge Drive, in a satellite overview.

See the property in person today!

Site Plan:

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Proposed Bethel Crematorium Site Walk Took Place in Frigid Temperatures, No Questions From The Public Allowed

SEE VIDEO. Icy ground, steep site elevations and extremely thick brush made site location viewing difficult.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
Jan 20, 2015 11:14AM EDT

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Viewing of the site location for the proposed Bethel crematorium at 12 Trowbridge Drive, Bethel, CT, was not easy in frigid temperatures of approximately 9 degrees this past Saturday morning, January 17, 2015. Also, icy ground, steep site elevations and extremely thick brush made site location viewing difficult.

Nonetheless, there was a small group of individuals who attended the site walk, mostly the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z), Bethel Land Use – Inland Wetlands Department, the applicant B. Shawn McLaughlin’s son and daughter, attorney, engineer, and some Bethel residents.

After the group toured the exterior of the applicant’s present business, Monocrete Step Company, the engineer for the applicant, Mike Bizzoco, gave a brief description of the crematorium location. He pointed to an orange marker by the curb as the driveway entrance and stating that the building is set back 80 feet from the road. He also stated that the building would be 47 feet from the property’s northern border which has another industrial building close by on the adjacent property. Bizzoco said he does not know what the distance is between those two buildings (between the proposed crematorium building and the other building on the adjacent property to the north) because he “did not measure that.” When asked if he knew what the regulations were for minimum distance between buildings, he said there were “no regulations.”

Bethel’s Land Use Director, Steve Palmer, asked the small crowd, after Bizzoco’s summary, “Does anyone have any other questions?” Some questions were answered, but there were no questions allowed from the public, as per the P&Z.
On the site walk I observed a large beautiful body of water behind the Mono-Crete Step Company’s building, which is the Sympaug Pond. This Bethel body of water, more like the size of a large lake than a pond, also connects with other water sources to the south, which goes into Redding and Danbury. Will these, and all the aquifers in and surrounding the park, along with air and soil, be effected negatively by emissions from the proposed crematorium? Will an impact study be commissioned to determine that?

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During the site walk the engineer Bizzoco also referred to tall and long retaining walls on several sides of the building structure, as also shown on the building plans. One wall was as much as 13 feet in height. One has to wonder what the final visual will be for that, or effect on drainage or other issues, etc.. As it stands now, the location of the site for the crematorium building is a steep grade, so much needs to be done to follow the building plans shown. Bizzoco talked about “cutting into” the property.

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Recently at the December 29, 2015 Special Town Meeting a handful of business owners voted to strip Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) of all power and also the park rules expired on January 15, 2015,. So now the park has no rules and no one to oversee the park as the EDC had been successfully doing for 30 years without incident. The meeting was held on the Monday between Christmas and New Year’s weeks, and perhaps most residents were not aware of the meeting it seemed, by the low turnout. The final vote was NO 28 to YES 26, to not extend the EDC tenure by 10 years, which also stripped the EDC of power.

In an article dated January 18, 2015, in the News Times entitled, “Expired Rules Change Business Park Outlook” by Dirk Perrefort, Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) Chairman Mike Boyle is quoted as saying, “Without the rules and regulations in place, we no longer have any authority over the park,” and “It’s now the town’s responsibility. Of course, we’ll continue to serve as a conduit to the town and tell them what’s needed, but we have no authority to get it done.”

More importantly, Perrefort writes, “He [Boyle] added that a crematorium is not a good use for the park, saying negotiations with a company interested in building a 25,000-square-foot warehouse in the park stopped when the crematorium use was approved.” (This refers to when the text amendment was approved by the P&Z, which changed the park rules to allow a crematorium in certain parts of Bethel. There is still a second phase, which is happening right now, where the applicant has applied for a site/building permit and also a permit to use the building as a crematorium.)
Perhaps Bethel residents should be very concerned about the amount of vacancies in this park. The high number of buildings presently up for sale or lease are very disconcerting. The fact that a business decided not to locate to the park when it heard about the crematorium, is very worrisome. Is this the beginning of the end for Bethel’s Clarke Business Park? Will this also have a negative effect on home values?

Residents will have a chance to voice their opposition to the crematorium at the next scheduled meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), coming up very shortly, next Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 7:00 p.m., in the Denis J. Riordan meeting Room D.

Residents can also sign an online petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/town-of-bethel-do-not-allow-a-crematorium-incineration-of-human-remains-in-bethel-ct-clarke-business-park-or-anywhere-in-vicinity-do-not-change-the-zoning-permit-which-prevents-this-type-of-business

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Click on photos to view larger.

Photo captions starting from photo after the video:

Photo 1 and 2 shows the views of Sympaug Pond which is directly behind the Mono-crete Step Co. on the eastern border of their property.
Photo 3 shows the group listening to the applicant’s engineer, Mike Bizzoco, describe the property and plans.
Photos 4 and 5 show a view of the driveway placement, marked with an orange ribbon and also orange paint on brush.
Photos 6 and 7 show part of the group in attendance.
Photo 8 shows Steve Palmer with a view of the Sympaug Pond to his right.
Photo 9 shows part of the group viewing the Sympaug Pond.
Photo 10 shows part of the group walking up the hill to the part of the property where the proposed crematorium is to be located. As you look at the property from the street the crematorium would be on the extreme left front side.
Photo 11 shows the rear of the Mono-crete Step Co. building.
Photo 12 shows the northern part of the rear of the Mono-crete Step Co. property, and left of center, in the distance, you can see the rear of the steep grade (hill) where the proposed crematorium would be located (highest point on property).
Photo above the video shows individuals looking at plans.

Bethel crematory proposal withdrawn
Dirk Perrefort
Published 9:35 pm, Friday, January 23, 2015

http://www.newstimes.com/business/article/Bethel-crematory-proposal-withdrawn-6036629.php

BETHEL — A controversial proposal to build a crematorium at the Francis J. Clarke Business Park has been withdrawn by the applicants.

Officials with the MonoCrete company, which is already located in the park on Trowbridge Lane, confirmed on Friday that their application to construct a new building on the site for a crematorium has been removed from the Planning and Zoning Commission, where it was pending.

Shelby McCloughlin, the office manager for the family owned company, said that while they hope to submit the application again in the near future, issues that have arisen with their current building have to be addressed before they can move forward with the new business enterprise.

Cremations have been rising in popularity in recent years as an alternative to more costly burials. MonoCrete, which produces a variety of products, including burial vaults, was hoping to expand its business into the growing market.

“Right now, we want to stand back a little bit and deal with some other issues that have arisen before moving forward,” McCloughlin said Friday. “We are still keeping our options open for the future and plan to resubmit our application.”

McCloughlin declined to elaborate on when an application would be submitted or what issues need to be addressed with the current building.

The initial application last year for a zoning amendment that would allow crematoriums in an industrial park zone was met with an outcry from some members of the park and the local Economic Development Commission, which oversaw the park at the time of the original application.

Mike Boyle, the commission’s chairman and a property owner in the park, said he was concerned that having a crematorium on site would limit future development at a time when they are looking to expand the park and are receiving interest from several companies who want to expand or locate there. He added some of those negotiations stalled when talk of the crematorium surfaced.

Boyle said Friday he was pleased the application was withdrawn and the plans have been put on hold, at least for now. Whether that means negotiations with potential tenants could be reinstated, he said, could depend on what the future holds.

“We really need to understand their (MonoCrete’s) intent before we can reengage people in negotiations,” he said.

Boyle added that while crematoriums are now allowed in the zone due to the amendment passed by zoning officials last year, MonoCrete is the only company that has expressed an interest in the use.

The controversy surrounding the proposal also led tenants to question rules and regulations governing the park that had been in place since it was founded in the 1970s. The commission had been in the process of renewing and revising those regulations, but the effort failed before the rules expired earlier this month.

Jan. 27th Public Hearing for Proposed Bethel Crematorium Has Been Canceled

There is no indication of the next public hearing date but applicant says they plan on resubmitting their application in the future.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
Jan 24, 2015 1:55PM EDT

According to a notice on the town of Bethel’s website from the Planning and Zoning Department, the application for the proposed crematorium at 12 Trowbridge Drive in Bethel, CT has been withdrawn. There will be no public hearing held on this application on January 27, 2015.

There is no indication of the next public hearing date at this time, or when another application will be submitted by the applicant B. Shawn McLaughlin. We will update you when more official information becomes available.

In a recent Danbury News Times article dated Jan. 23, 2015, a Mono-crete Step company official, Shelby McLaughlin, office manager of the family owned business, confirmed that they removed the crematorium application from the Planning and Zoning Commission. She said, according to this article, that “they hope to submit the application again in the near future, issues that have arisen with their current building have to be addressed before they can move forward with the new business enterprise.” McLaughlin said, “Right now, we want to stand back a little bit and deal with some other issues that have arisen before moving forward” and also, “We are still keeping our options open for the future and plan to resubmit our application.” The News Times states, “McCloughlin declined to elaborate on when an application would be submitted or what issues need to be addressed with the current building.”

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The Planning and Zoning Commission specifically approved a text amendment last year on July 22, 2014 (effective August 15, 2014), after the applicant, B. Shawn McLaughlin, present owner of the Mono-crete Step Co., wanted the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission to allow a crematorium in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park, at 12 Trowbridge Drive, which the present park rules did not allow. This proposed crematorium is to be built on the same property on which McLaughlin has his present business, Mono-crete Step Co., which manufactures concrete products.

This text amendment approval by the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission then paved the way for McLaughlin to apply for the next two permits, which are a site/building plan permit and a permit to use that newly built building as a crematorium. The applications were submitted along with building plans and a site walk was done by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 17, 2015.

Apparently there are now some issues, as stated above by the applicant’s daughter Shelby McLaughlin, which made the applicant withdraw the application.

However, this is not the only a concern with the proposed crematorium. The Chairman of Bethel’s Economic Development Commission (EDC), Mike Boyle, also a business owner in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park, clearly stated at recent past EDC meetings that a crematorium was not in the best interest of Clarke Business Park. The EDC was in the process of revising the park rules, and the revised rules did not permit a crematorium. Most park business owners were against the crematorium but then issues came up with other park rules.

A special public meeting was then suddenly held on the Monday between Christmas week and New Year’s week, on Dec. 29, 2014, to vote on the tenure of the EDC, to be extended another ten years. This meeting notice on a holiday week was probably easily missed by most residents, judging from the low turnout at the meeting.

The EDC had been stewards of the business park successfully for thirty years. At this Dec. 29 meeting, despite the EDC Chairman Mike Boyle stating that the EDC would have another EDC meeting on Jan. 15, 2015 to further discuss the park rules, a vote on the EDC tenure was taken and it was mostly angry business owners who voted to not extend the tenure. This also meant the EDC would be stripped of power, something that was not explained to voters before the vote nor stated in the meeting notice. At the meeting, right before the vote, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker only stated that the vote was supposed to be on the EDC tenure only, not the park rules. The vote was 28 to 26 to not extend the EDC’s tenure. Coincidentally, the rules of the park would expire on Jan. 15, 2015. So now there are no park rules and no one to oversee the park. The control of the park falls back to the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said on Dec. 29, 2014, after that meeting adjourned.

I should note that the P&Z was very vocal at the last two recent EDC meetings, about who should be in charge of making park rules. As I mentioned, the EDC was successfully handling the rules of the park for thirty years and an issue did not come up about who was in charge of rules until the P&Z and the EDC did not agree on allowing a crematorium into the park. Then suddenly a special town meeting took place and the EDC was stripped of power. This is most interesting.

There is also an outcry from residents who are opposed to allowing a crematorium in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park or anywhere in Bethel, CT. They have been very vocal at P&Z and EDC meetings and also in correspondence written to the P&Z commission. The opposition took place as far back as April 2014 when residents and business owners started becoming aware of the proposed crematorium and began signing a petition opposing it, and also again a few months later, during a P&Z meeting before the text amendment (park rules change) was approved to allow a crematorium in Bethel. There was again a large opposition outcry at two subsequent P&Z public meetings and two EDC public meetings. But despite the majority opposition, the P&Z approved the text amendment anyway in a vote of 4 to 3. Voting YES were P&Z members: Chairman Pat Rist, Kitty Grant, Bob Legnard, and John Lennon.

There is an online petition opposing the crematorium. Many have signed the petition showing this opposition and stating reasons why they are opposed. The signatures are growing daily.

VIEW AND SIGN THE PETITION HERE:

https://www.change.org/p/town-of-bethel-do-not-allow-a-crematorium-incineration-of-human-remains-in-bethel-ct-clarke-business-park-or-anywhere-in-vicinity-do-not-change-the-zoning-permit-which-prevents-this-type-of-business

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See references to documents below.

The exact notice states:

“1/27/2015 – Planning & Zoning Commission Hearing on Proposed Crematorium for 12 Trowbridge Drive Cancelled – Tuesday January 27, 2015

12 Trowbridge Drive – Proposed crematory application has been withdrawn. Therefore there will be no public hearing held on this application on January 27, 2015. For more information please contact the Planning & Zoning department at 203-794-8578.”

Here is the cancellation announcement link: http://bethel-ct.gov/controls/NewsFeed.aspx?FeedID=152
Here is the link for the original agenda for the Jan. 27 hearing, which was continued from the original date of the meeting on Jan. 13: http://bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/83/10494/10545/2015-01-27a.pdf

Here is the Jan. 13 minutes of the meeting where the date was continued: http://bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/83/10494/10545/2015-01-13m_public_hearing.pdf

SEE SCHEDULED MEETING DATES OF PLANNING & ZONING MEETINGS FOR 2015 AT THIS LINK AND ON LIST BELOW:

http://bethel-ct.gov/filestorage/1190/83/10494/10545/2015_Meeting_Schedule.pdf

January 13, 2015
January 27, 2015
February 10, 2015
February 24, 2015
March 10, 2015
March 24, 2015
April 14, 2015
April 28, 2015
May 12, 2015
May 26, 2015
June 9, 2015
June 23, 2015
July 14, 2015
July 28, 2015
August 11, 2015
September 8, 2015
September 22, 2015
October 13, 2015
October 27, 2015
November 10, 2015
November 24, 2015
December 8, 2015

Bethel Crematorium Applicant Seeks Site Plan Modification for Mono-Crete Step Co.
P&Z to discuss a “Zoning Amendment Moratorium Section 8.11 on Acceptance of Applications for a Crematory 4.3.C.10a And eliminate section 4.3.C.10a” and view site plan modification request.

by Paula Antolini
February 24, 2015

There will be a Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission Meeting and Public Hearing tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center, in the Denis J. Riordan Room D.

This includes a public hearing for Whiteacre of Bethel Inc., The Grand, Site Plan/Special Permit, Map Amendment, Grand Street.

Among other items on the agenda, under “new business” is Mono-crete Step Company at 12 Trowbridge Drive in Bethel Ct. (Clarke Business park) is requesting a site plan modification. (Mono-crete Step Company is the applicant’s present business and the same property where he is planning to have the crematorium.)

Also under “new business” there is “Zoning Amendment Moratorium Section 8.11 on Acceptance of Applications for a Crematory 4.3.C.10a And eliminate section 4.3.C.10a.”

This is not a public hearing at this time for the crematorium, that will be at a future date. Steve Palmer, Land Use Director, will be giving the details to the P&Z tonight about this site plan modification info..

Connecticut Coining in Clarke Business Park Requests a Moratorium on All Applications for Crematoriums in Bethel
Connecticut Coining is requesting “the adoption of a Moratorium on applications for crematorium facilities pursuant to the recent amendment to Section 4.3.C.10a” and also an amendment to the Zoning Regulations to address the use of the proposed building as a crematorium.

Report by Paula Antolini
February 25, 2015 5:46PM EDT

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Above photo: Connecticut Coining, located at 10 Trowbridge Drive in Clarke Business Park, Bethel, CT.

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Connecticut Coining, a business in Bethel’s Clark Business Park (previously known as Francis J. Clarke Industrial Park) located at 10 Trowbridge Drive in Bethel, has requested two amendments to the Zoning Regulations of the Town of Bethel regarding crematoriums.

In a letter dated February 11, 2015, sent to the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) and P&Z Chairman Pat Rist, by attorney Neil Marcus, who is representing Connecticut Coining, he details his client’s requests.

According to the letter, Connecticut Coining is requesting “the adoption of a Moratorium on applications for crematorium facilities pursuant to the recent amendment to Section 4.3.C.10a.” The letter states, “The purpose of the Moratorium is somewhat self-explanatory. My client, Connecticut Coining, owns and operates its business in Francis Clarke and is seriously concerned about negative impacts that this type of use will have on his business and other business owners in the Park.”

Connecticut Coining is located directly next to Mono-crete Step Co. which is at 12 Trowbridge Drive. The owner of Mono-crete-Step Co., B. Shawn McLoughlin, is requesting that the town of Bethel approve building plans for a crematorium to be built just 47 feet from the southern property line of Connecticut Coining and that the town issue a permit to use the building as a crematorium. (This distance was confirmed at the P&Z site walk by McLoughlin’s engineer Mike Bizzoco.)

The second request from Connecticut Coining is for an amendment to the Zoning Regulations to address the use of the proposed building as a crematorium.

Connecticut Coining submitted exact wording for what they would like the amendment to read and have also stated the reasons why they are making this request. The letter to the P&Z states, “In the interim in order to allow the commission a reasonable period of time to consider the amendment, we have submitted the proposed Moratorium.”

Connecticut Coining is also requesting a public hearing at the earliest convenience of the P&Z.
Under “reasons” the letter from attorney Neil Marcus (representing Connecticut Coining) states in part, referring to the recent text amendment Section 8.11, 4.3.C.10a of the Zoning Regulations, “The action of the Commission in adopting the amendment allowing crematory facilities took place with little public input from property owners in the IP zone who might be adversely affected by such facilities. The Applicant is of the opinion that the Commission may not have fully examined the types of impacts that would occur if a crematory facility were approved pursuant to the amended regulation. The Applicant has reason to believe that there will be a significant adverse effect on property values in Francis Clarke Industrial Park if a crematory were approved at that location. This type of use is offensive to the beliefs and values of many of the employees who currently work in the Francis Clarke Industrial Park. It will have a negative impact on economic development in the Town of Bethel.” (Attorney’s note: “Commission” refers to the Planning and Zoning Commission.)

The letter also states, “The Applicant will propose an amendment to the Zoning Regulations to eliminate the crematory facility use in the IP Zone and in connection therewith petitions the Zoning Commission to adopt a Moratorium to allow a sufficient period of time to examine the feasibility of this type of use in the IP Zone. Due to the complexity of the issue, the Commission should not entertain or accept any applications for Site Plans, pursuant to Section 8.4 of the Zoning Regulations, for a period of twelve (12) months from the adoption of the Moratorium which the Applicant seeks. This limited duration and specific use Moratorium is justified under the circumstances.”

Below is the exact language of what Connecticut Coining would like the new Section 8.11 to read:

SECTION 8.11 MORATORIUM

1. Uses Subject to Moratorium

(a). INTENT AND PURPOSE
The Zoning Commission has determined that the following uses have the potential to impair the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, and that a temporary, limited moratorium is needed in order to properly develop restrictions and standards for the implementation of their uses.

(b). IDENTIFIED USES SUBJECT TO MORATORIUM
1. Crematory Facility

(c). APPLICATION
1. No application for a Crematory Facility and no installation or creation of a Crematory Facility shall be permitted in any zone within the Town of Bethel during the effective dates specified in Sec. 8.11.1(d).

(d). EFFECTIVE DATE and EXPIRATION
1. The effective date of the moratorium on the application or creation of any Crematory Faciilty is the date of adoption of this regulation by the Zoning Commission together with the filing of the amendment with the town clerk (beginning on _________________). expiring in one calendar ________ year (ending on ________).

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Bethel Advocate will continue to follow this story and post updates as we get them.

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Connecticut Coining: http://ctcoining.com/

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Additional information:

There is an ongoing petition opposing the crematorium, that was started 10 months ago, that 142 individuals have signed. Click below for more information and to sign the petition, and also view what other residents are saying about the crematorium:

https://www.change.org/p/town-of-bethel-do-not-allow-a-crematorium-incineration-of-human-remains-in-bethel-ct-clarke-business-park-or-anywhere-in-vicinity-do-not-change-the-zoning-permit-which-prevents-this-type-of-business

Crematorium Applicant Hits Snag with Application; Has Permit Problems
Bethel P&Z discovers crematorium applicant did not have a Certificate of Occupancy for his present business, and other discrepancies.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
February 26, 2015 3:18PM EDT

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Photo above: Mono-crete Step Co. in Clarke Business Park, at 12 Trowbridge Drive, Bethel, CT.

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Mr. B. Shawn McLoughlin, owner of Mono-Crete Step Co., a concrete products business located in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park at 12 Trowbridge Drive, has run into some problems in the process of submitting an application for a crematorium business that he wants to add to the same property. The crematorium application was submitted in 2014 but then withdrawn in early 2015 when the town discovered that Mr. McLoughlin does not have a valid Certificate of Occupancy and the original approved site plan does not conform to some of the present conditions on property due to modifications that were made, for the business he has operated for the past 15 years.

Mr. Peter Olson, McLaughlin’s attorney, sent a letter dated February 18, 2015 to Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Pat Rist, requesting a final certificate of occupancy be issued by the Town of Bethel for the metal Monocrete-Step Co. building. Olson stated in the letter, “A temporary certificate of occupancy was issued, but two very minor changes delayed the issuance of a permanent certificate of occupancy.” Olson mentions one of the changes as, “…encroachments of pavement and gravel onto the adjoining property,” and continued “we have arranged to purchase a strip of land from that owner to resolve the issue.” 

Olson claims that a temporary certificate of occupancy was issued 15 years ago but, “The town’s file on this matter does not reflect the field review and approvals,” Olson’s letter stated, “…the Town’s current staff is at a disadvantage.”

Mr. McLoughlin’s permit request for the Mono-Crete Step Co. was presented by Land Use Director Steve Palmer at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting held on February 24, 2015.

The P&Z is presently reviewing the matter and have set a date for a public hearing on April 14, 2015.

Beth Cavagna from the Bethel Land Use and Inland Wetlands office said that until all these issues are resolved the crematorium building site application cannot move forward.

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A Recap of What Has Occurred So Far Regarding the Crematorium Application:

McLoughlin submitted his application for a text amendment (change in park rules) to Clarke Business Park rules early in 2014, to request that the P&Z approve this text amendment to allow a crematorium in Clarke Business Park, previously not allowed under the present park rules at that time.

In 2014 and 2015 there were two public meetings held by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) in which the majority of residents and Bethel business owners in attendance spoke out in opposition to the crematorium and they requested that the P&Z should not approve the text amendment. There was also written correspondence sent to the P&Z and read aloud at the meetings to reflect this same view. Very few individuals were for the crematorium. Despite that outcry, a text amendment was approved by the P&Z in a vote of 4 to 3, an amendment that would now allow crematoriums to be built not only in Clarke Business Park but in a certain other areas of the IP zone in eastern Bethel too. This paved the was for McLoughlin to move forward with his crematorium site building application.

The Bethel Economic Development Committee (EDC) was opposed to the crematorium and EDC Chairman Mike Boyle stated it was not in the best interest of Bethel and the Clarke Business Park, stating this at two public meetings the EDC held late last year to discuss the crematorium and other rules.

In December 2014, the EDC, who have been the stewards of the Clarke Business Park for the past 30 years without incident, revised the park rules, and among the changes was a rule that now would NOT allow a crematorium in the park. Many Clarke Business Park owners, that were previously against the crematorium, were now concerned about other rule changes that would affect their business, and this is where the entire situation became controversial.

Added to this, a few of the P&Z members, namely Chairman Pat Rist, Kitty Grant, and Bob Legnard, attended the two public EDC meetings and strongly spoke out about who was in charge of creating or revising park rules. They felt that they had set up the original rules and the EDC could not change them. Peter Olson, the attorney for the crematorium applicant, told the EDC they had no power regarding the park rules because they were an appointed committee and not an elected commission. This rules discrepancy issue did not come up in 30 years until the P&Z was not pleased the EDC was changing park rules to not be in favor of the crematorium, it appears.

Shortly after that, a Special Town Meeting was called on December 29,2014, on the Monday between the Christmas holiday and New Year’s holiday, to vote on the tenure of the EDC being extended ten years. Attendance at the meeting was low, possibly because many residents missed the notice buried layers deep in an agenda on the town’s website.
At the Dec. 29 Special Town Meeting, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker made a point of clarifying exactly what residents would be voting on, which was the EDC ten-year tenure and not park rules. EDC Chairman Boyle stated there would be an additional meeting on January 15, 2015, to further discuss park rules. But despite all this, business owners concerned about park rules other than the crematorium-related rules, then voted not to extend the EDC tenure and thus remove rule-making power of the EDC permanently.

In a close vote of 28(no) to 26(yes), the EDC was now stripped of power to oversee the rules of the park. Read the full story here: http://betheladvocate.com/bethels-economic-development-committee-stripped-of-power/
Park rules then expired on January 15, 2015, and First Selectman Knickerbocker stated that the P&Z is now in charge of rules. See Knickerbocker video here: http://betheladvocate.com/bethels-economic-development-committee-stripped-of-power/

McLoughlin submitted his building plans to the town and a site walk took place by the P&Z on January 17, 2015. Read story and view video here: http://betheladvocate.com/proposed-crematorium-site-walk-took-place-in-frigid-temperatures-no-questions-from-the-public-allowed/

Subsequent to that, the Bethel Economic Outreach Committee was also disbanded by the Board of Selectman in a move First Selectman Knickerbocker called “housekeeping.” Read story here: http://betheladvocate.com/bethel-board-of-selectmen-disband-eight-committees/

The crematorium issue was on the P&Z agenda for a meeting scheduled for January 13, 2015, which was then “continued” (postponed) until January 27, 2015, and although the January 27 meeting was again continued to January 29, the crematorium issue was no longer on the agenda, because of the permit problems discovered during the ongoing approval process.

We will keep a close watch on the progression of this crematorium application. Presently McLoughlin has not re-submitted the crematorium application, while present permit and other issues are addressed, according to Beth Cavagna.

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Additional information:

There is an ongoing petition opposing the crematorium, that was started 10 months ago, that 142 individuals have signed. Click below for more information and to sign the petition, and also view what other residents are saying about the crematorium:

https://www.change.org/p/town-of-bethel-do-not-allow-a-crematorium-incineration-of-human-remains-in-bethel-ct-clarke-business-park-or-anywhere-in-vicinity-do-not-change-the-zoning-permit-which-prevents-this-type-of-business


B. Shawn McLoughlin, Applicant for Bethel Crematorium, Moving Forward; CT Coining Requests Moratorium and Zoning Amendment to Stop Crematorium; Public Hearing April 14

Important Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission meeting approaching, regarding applications and approval of a crematorium in Bethel, zoning amendments, and request for a moratorium, on April 14, 2015. All residents should attend.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
April 3, 2015 3:42PM EDT

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has approved a site plan modification, on March 31, 2015, for Mono-crete Step Co. LLC, located in Clarke Business Park at 12 Trowbridge Drive, Bethel CT. Previously it was discovered that owner B. Shawn McLoughlin did not have a Certificate of Occupancy for this business for the last 15 years and there were site modifications made that did not conform to the original plan.

This approval now makes it possible for McLoughlin to move forward to submit his application to the P&Z for a special permit to build a separate 5,000sf building on that same property, and also apply for the special permit to use the building as a crematorium, as required by section 4.3 (C)(10a); 4.2 (B) (2) &4.2. (D) (1) of the zoning regulations.
The Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on April 14th 2015 at 7:00pm in the Denis J Riordan Meeting Room D, 1 School Street, Bethel Connecticut to hear the applications of B. Shawn McLaughlin.

At this same meeting, Connecticut Coining, a business located at 10 Trowbridge Drive (right next door to Mono-crete Step Co., on the north side of the property where the crematorium is proposed to be built) has officially requested a proposed amendment to the Town of Bethel Zoning Regulations, AMEND Section 4.3.C.10a to Eliminate Crematory Facility, request on April 3, 2015. CT Coining is also requesting to AMEND Section 8.11. To include a moratorium on the acceptance of Applications for a Crematory under section 4.3.C.10a.

Interested persons will be heard and written communication received by the P&Z, regarding these topics. A copy of the proposed regulation is available for perusal at the Land Use Office and the Town Clerk’s Office, 1 School Street, Bethel, Connecticut.

Important Town Public Hearing Tomorrow, April 14; Your Chance to STOP THE CREMATORIUM! Help Protect Bethel’s Air, Water & Soil
Attend the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Meeting, April 14, 2015, 7:00 p.m. in the Denis J. Riordan Room D, Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Building, 1 School Street, Bethel CT.

Report by Paula Antolini
April 12, 2015 4:24PM EDT

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(Click on above flyer to view larger. Then click again to view even larger.)

http://betheladvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/BA_crematoriumflyer2protectbethelairwatersoil.jpg
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Attention All Bethel Residents:
IMPORTANT TOWN PUBLIC HEARING TOMORROW!

Your chance to STOP THE CREMATORIUM!
Help Protect Bethel’s Air, Water & Soil!

Attend the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Meeting, April 14, 2015, 7:00 p.m. in the Denis J. Riordan Room D, Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Building, 1 School Street, Bethel CT.

The P&Z will hear the application of B. Shawn McLoughlin for a site plan/special permit to construct a 5,000 square foot building (in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park at 10 Trowbridge Drive, Bethel CT) and a special permit for use as a crematorium, as required by section 4.3(C)(10a); 4.2 (B) (2) & 4.2 of the zoning regulations.
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The crematorium applicant is re-submitting another application to the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission to build a crematorium in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park, after clearing up some permit issues he had with his other business on the same property, Mono-crete Step, which had some site plan violations and did not have Certificate of Occupancy for 15 years. He is now proceeding forward with his crematorium plan.

You will have the opportunity to tell the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission why they should or should not approve a crematorium in Bethel.

It is important to tell commission members why this crematorium could be harmful to Bethel residents regarding health, safety and real estate values (or you can indicate support, that is your choice). Approving a crematorium for Bethel’s Clarke Business Park could also have a negative effect in drawing more business into that park, or drawing new business into our Bethel Town in general, as some business owners have already said they will move their business out of the park if this crematorium is approved. Bethel Moms have said they will not bring their children to that park’s child entertainment facilities if there is a crematorium approved (you can see those comments on the petition). Please read the petition at the link below, for more info.

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At this same meeting the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission will hear Connecticut Coining Inc., a request for a proposed amendment to the Town of Bethel Zoning Regulations. AMEND Section 4.3.C.10a Eliminate Crematory Facility.

At this public hearing interested persons will be heard and written communication received. A copy of the proposed regulation is available for perusal at the Land Use Office and the Town Clerk’s Office, 1 School Street, Bethel, Connecticut.

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Sign the petition to PROTECT BETHEL’S AIR,WATER & SOIL:
www.tinyurl.com/nocrematorium

Crematorium P&Z Meeting Tomorrow; Please Sign the Petition to STOP THE CREMATORIUM
If you want to protect Bethel’s air, water and soil from being polluted by toxic chemicals from a proposed crematorium, and also protect real estate values in Bethel, CT, then it is important for all residents attend the Planning & Zoning Meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in the Denis J. Riordan Meeting Room D of the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center, 1 School Street, Bethel CT.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
April 27, 2015 4:25PM EDT

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OPINION
Crematorium P&Z Meeting Tomorrow; Please Sign the Petition to STOP THE CREMATORIUM

If you want to protect Bethel’s air, water and soil from being polluted by toxic chemicals from a proposed crematorium, and also protect real estate values in Bethel, CT, then it is important for all residents attend the Planning & Zoning Meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in the Denis J. Riordan Meeting Room D of the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center, 1 School Street, Bethel CT.

Let your voices be heard that we do not want a crematorium in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park or anywhere else in Bethel, CT. Tell the Planning & Zoning Commission why a crematorium will not be good for Bethel, health hazards, lower real estate values, and will not draw more business into Bethel. Many of the Clarke Park business owners are against this crematorium, some already have their properties up for sale, along with officials of our Economic Development Committee opposing crematoriums, and 175 families in Bethel oppose crematoriums too, so far (see petition comments too). Many people do not know about this proposed crematorium yet. Help get the word out. This is not only our town opposing a crematorium, many towns across the United States are doing so also.

A crematorium poses numerous health hazards, including toxic vapors which can get into the water and earth and cause extreme illness and even death. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that exposure to mercury/metallic vapor on the human body, even in chronic low doses, can cause all sorts of negative effects in adults, children and animals, such as birth defects in babies, neurological defects, damage or destruction of nerve tissue, effects to the the visual cortex and the cerebellum (brain section that controls movement and balance) and it can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys, or cause death.

Mercury concentrations released into the outdoor air and are washed into soil and water via rain or snow, and it causes contamination. When mercury enters bodies of water, biological processes transform it to methylmercury, a highly toxic and bioaccumulative form. Fish can absorb methylmercury from their food and directly from water as it passes over their gills.

Besides now having dead bodies (human remains) aboard trucks driving through Bethel roads and our business park each day/week/month, the larger concern should be about the impact on the air quality in Bethel to humans and animals/pets, and how far the pollution might travel, or if anyone has DONE (or plans on conducting) an air quality impact test. Or has anyone studied crematorium impact data, such as the amount of toxins in crematory emissions (for instance, mercury as a source of pollution through incinerated dental amalgam fillings). There is also a concern about communicative diseases of which the individuals might have passed.

A crematorium also negatively affects real estate values. There is also concern about how the increasing popularity of cremation will impact traffic and all of the above problems and quality of life.

You will find excellent information on the website of the Community Awareness Network, see https://no2crematory.wordpress.com/ who has a wealth of documented information on crematoriums and is keeping track of all the communities across the United Stated that are also against crematoriums and attending their town meetings in a similar battle, trying to get officials to see how harmful crematoriums are to our health, real estate values, and quality of life as we know it here in our lovely New England town of Bethel CT.

Of particular interest is “Crematorium Emissions Data.” See: https://no2crematory.wordpress.com/the-toxic-truth-data/ This is an outline of key points in several documents found to have useful information on the matter of toxins in crematory emissions. The documents can be viewed by following the links in blue. Also click on the links to the right side of the page, which are stories of other towns fighting crematoriums.

PROTECT BETHEL’S AIR, WATER AND SOIL.

PROTECT OUR REAL ESTATE VALUES.

PROTECT OUR FAMILY’S HEALTH, ESPECIALLY OUR CHILDREN’S and PET’S HEALTH.

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We should not have to fight for clean air!

Please Sign the Petition to STOP THE CREMATORIUM:
https://www.tinyurl.com/nocrematorium
Attend tomorrow night’s meeting.

Is the Bethel Proposed Crematorium Applicant McLoughlin Following Procedure Properly? A Recap of What Transpired at the Last Crematorium Public Hearing

“Right now this plan violates your own regulations,” said Attorney Neil Marcus to the P&Z, about the crematorium site plan.

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
April 27, 2015 4:10PM EDT

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OPINION
Is the Bethel Proposed Crematorium Applicant McLoughlin Following Procedure Properly? A Recap of What Transpired at the Last Crematorium Public Hearing

“Right now this plan violates your own regulations,” said Attorney Neil Marcus to the P&Z, about the crematorium site plan.

It doesn’t matter what nationality you are, what religion you follow, or where you live in Bethel, the proposed crematorium issue negatively affects all residents and businesses, regarding health, safety and home and business real estate values, in the overall impact.

Many residents and business owners feel that a crematorium will affect the character of Bethel and how others view the Town of Bethel, they feel it will discourage new business from coming to Bethel, as many residents stated at past P&Z public meetings and in letters. It has already caused one present business owner in Clarke Business Park, Mr. Johnny Choi, owner of Soho Designs and four commercial properties, to put his properties up for sale, strictly based on the text amendment change last year to allow a crematorium in Clark Business Park, he said in a letter to the P&Z recently. This woud be a loss of $41,000 in revenue for the town. Another Clark Business Park resident, Greg Marciano, owner of CT Coining, hired a lawyer to oppose the crematorium, asking for a moratorium and text amendment, to not allow crematoriums in Bethel. Drive through Clark Business park and view an unusually high number of realtor signs on lawns in front of businesses, compared to less signs last year. This is very much a concern to Bethel residents.

It is important that we prevent the proposed crematorium from being approved and that we insure no other crematorium will be allowed in Bethel. This is imperative to protect the health of residents and their pets too, and to protect home and business real estate values. In this tough economy Bethel residents do not need yet another burden on home and business owners to jeopardize their investments. But more importantly, to put our residents’ health at risk in any way is unacceptable. How much would YOU consider a “safe” amount of prolonged toxic mercury exposure to your family?

This has become a national problem, it is not just a problem in Bethel. See: https://no2crematory.wordpress.com/ Many communities are fighting back due to the toxins involved and the crematorium locations close to residential communities, where the 500 foot regulation has no meaning because toxins in crematorium emissions in the air do not know to stop at 500 feet, and when landing on water can travel to many other areas. Residents battling this same issue are experiencing odors and black smoke traveling over their homes, and have views of stacks in some cases, and fear that continued prolonged exposure exposes them to all sorts of deadly ailments, mainly from mercury/methylmercury from emissions, known to cause these ailments. What about the workers in the business park, and also the crematorium workers too? They will be directly exposed.

The EPA does not regulate crematoriums because they do not consider human remains “solid waste” despite toxins produced in incineration, so therefore it does not fall under the Clean Air Act. The state must insure proper regulatory procedures are followed. A Note on why EPA doesn’t regulate crematories: https://no2crematory.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/a-note-on-why-epa-doesnt-regulate-crematories/

According to a letter from the Bethel Health Department to the P&Z dated April 14, 2015, attorney Peter Olsen, representing the crematorium applicant B. Shawn McLoughlin, has not yet sent in an crematorium applications to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) for review and approval of the crematory project. From what was observed in past crematorium public hearings and the April 14 hearing, Olsen is trying to get the P&Z to approve his project THEN submit applications to the DEEP and DPH for approval. Isn’t this a bit backwards? Would the P&Z ever approve a application for a crematorium site plan for a 5,000sf building, and another application for a permit to use the building as a crematorium, BEFORE they had the DEEP and DPH approval FIRST? Why are the applicant and his attorney not submitting these required applications now? Why are they stalling?

Attorney Olsen also wants to possibly interpret the zoning regulations his own way, and has challenged the P&Z about the actual definition of several regulations. For example, one regulation requires that the discharge points (where emissions from incinerated bodies are discharged) be screened from view in all directions, but he disputes certain directions at higher elevations (such as homes?) do not really count if they see the smokestacks, because after all, they have provided “screening” in the manner they see fit, not according to regulations. Olsen and the applicant also think this does not apply to CT Coining’s view of the crematorium stacks from their property’s upper levels in their building, admitting CT Coining will probably have a view of the stacks.

Olsen is also possibly trying to skirt the 500 foot regulation, which says the crematorium must be 500 feet from a residence, by saying only the part of the building where the retorts (ovens) will be, the part actually used for a crematorium, should count in the regulation measurement, and not the entire building, because there will be tenants in the other part. This was quickly disputed by the attorney Neil Marcus, representing CT Coining, the business next door to the proposed crematorium site, who said he never heard of a regulation only pertaining to what is being done inside of a building, and not the entire structure. Attorney Olsen’s solution is that they could split the building in two or move the building, in the proposed plans.

Olsen challenged the P&Z’s ability to change the text amendment that was approved last year, the one that then allowed a crematorium in Clark Business Park, saying once they gave an approval that could not take it back.
Olsen also believes there is no conflict with the fact that a next door business owner has presently requested a moratorium on crematoriums and a text amendment change to not allow crematoriums in Bethel, and the applicant’s present proposal for the P&Z to immediately approve the crematorium. He said, “the commission can approve or not approve the moratorium, or the text amendment, it really has no impact on this application. The Commission has to review this application as the Zoning Regulations stand on the date they were submitted, and that’s clearly spelled out in the statutes….so there’s no conflict.” So if these two requests are issues the P&Z is dealing with presently, why are they not a conflict? Shouldn’t the P&Z consider both sides equally? Or hold off on approval and consider a moratorium to give the P&Z more time to research crematorium facts, especially health related and real estate values issues, and input from residents? Or is this a race to see who submits an application first, then they “win”?

Olsen seems to have lightly covered, or not covered at all, some crematorium issues that are of utmost importance to residents, regarding safety issues. P&Z Chairman Pat Rist asked Olsen to address questions asked by resident Mr. Stowle earlier in the hearing, wanting to make sure he covered all of the resident’s questions. Rist said the resident wanted to know “when the DEEP process would start, what the proposed air pollution devices were all about, retorts regulated by, and an environmental impact statement.” Olsen’s response was, “I tried to cover all that in an umbrella I guess. We won’t start our DEEP application until after this commission acts, and hopefully that action is approval otherwise we won’t be going forward with the DEEP. We will also likely have to wait for that decision to be final before we start that process, maybe, maybe not. It’s a question of whether or not you want to take the risk,” Olsen said to the P&Z Commission. Take the risk? With resident’s health and safety? Why would the P&Z ever want to bypass DEEP and DPH regulations to approve the crematorium now? A good question. And the Bethel Health Department also stated the DEEP and DPH applications should be approved first. So why is this crematorium application even being considered?

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Photo above: Applicant B. Shawn McLoughlin’s present business, Mono-crete Step, on same property where he wants to build the crematorium.

Attorney Neil Marcus found quite a number of issues and violations in the applicant’s site plan. Anything over a certain height is considered a building, according to the P&Z regulations, Marcus said, so the proposed 13 foot retaining wall in the crematorium site plan goes against the P&Z’s own regulations. (See detailed info below.)

He also found issues with the boundaries, in that he discovered a residence could possibly be within the allowed boundary lines, also a violation. Marcus said, “It is my understanding that there is a residence in the park itself…we have no distance to that residence. We would like certification that the discharge points are 1000 feet from that residence.”

Regarding the screening issues from CT Coining, Marcus requested they shoot site lines so they can see what the heights will be from anywhere on Mr. Marciano’s property, whether he can see the smoke stacks. “We need a plan that shows you can’t see them, applied to your own regulation,” Marcus said to the Commission. Marcus also questioned the correct placement of the vegetation screen that is supposed to block the loading facilities area.

Marcus brought up the definition of a crematorium, as also stated in Steve Palmer’s memorandum, he said, he cites the statute as “as used in this section, crematory means a building or structure containing one or more cremation chambers,” that’s a Zoning requirement, not a public health requirement. He said the engineer is not a Zoning expert and suggested that the Commission consult Mr. Andres regarding what he thinks the CT statute means, he said, because “I’ve never seen a situation where you talk about zoning by a portion of a building.” “As far as I’m concerned, this whole building is the crematorium,” Marcus said. He pointed to the area on the plan where the units would be and said, “The unit is within 500 feet and it’s invalid.” Marcus said.

There might be an issue with the hours of operation, stated as “7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, and Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.,” but also states “funeral directors will be allowed to deliver human remains to the crematory in unusual or emergency situation.” It then states “death can be highly unpredictable” and that “in the event of an excess number of human remains requiring cremation on any particular day, the crematory may open for limited hours on Saturday afternoon or Sunday.” So doesn’t this pretty much give them leeway to open seven days a week, any hours they want, if they claim the situation is overload or unusual? The will also have the capacity to store 6 dead bodies as well as a “staging area” that holds 4 dead bodies to be cremated, while others are in the retort. Are these areas temperature controlled? Is there a plan for power outages? What training do workers need to handle human remains?

Has the applicant and/or attorney discussed safety measures at all? Besides the equipment, safety for workers and people in the park too?

Many many questions remain.

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There are numerous letters written to the P&Z opposing the crematorium, many from business owners and the Economic Development Commission, here are some of the names:

Mike Boyle, Chairman, Economic Development Commission
Sheldon Kahan, President, Interstate + Lakeland Lumber
Johnny Choi, CEO, Soho Designs
Kevin McMahon, President, K-Man Glass Corp.Paul Petrikas, Vitta Corp.
I will write more about their letters in my next article.

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See detailed information of some of the dialogue of the meeting:

THE PROPOSALS

The last Bethel Planning & Zoning Public Hearing was held on April 14, 2015. At this meeting there was a tremendous amount of material to cover about issues concerning the proposed crematorium, so much so, that the meeting ran over four hours long, well past 11:00 p.m.., and is continued to tomorrow, April 28, 2015 for some issues, and May 12, 2015 for other issues.

The applicant’s attorney, Peter Olsen, and a Clarke Business Park business owner’s attorney, Neil Marcus, representing CT Coining and owner Greg Marciano (located next door to the proposed crematorium site at 10 Trowbridge Drive,, Bethel CT) were present, and both attorneys gave lengthy testimony.

CT Coining was calling for two amendments to the Zoning Regulations of the Town of Bethel. The first is to allow the adoption of a moratorium on applications for crematories. The second is an amendment to eliminate crematoriums from the regulations as an allowed use in the IP Zone. The hearing was continued to April 28, 2015.

The crematorium applicant, B. Shawn McLoughlin, was requesting approval of a site plan for construction of a 5,000 square foot building which will contain a 1,667 square foot unit for crematory use, and approval of a permit to use that structure as a crematorium.

The hearing discussed DEEP procedures and jurisdiction, retorts, parking, landscaping, and the Commission requested that staff consult with Counsel Attorney Charles Andres, on interpretation of State Statutes pertaining to the structure and distances. The hearing was continued to May 12, 2015.

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Photo above: (Center) Attorney Olsen representing crematorium applicant B. Shawn McLoughlin.

THE TESTIMONY FROM PETER OLSEN, ATTORNEY FOR THE CREMATORIUM APPLICANT

The testimony of Peter Olsen, representing the crematorium applicant, addressed certain issues, giving his own interpretation of regulations. Some issue discussed were:

Regarding views from all directions, of the crematorium smokestacks, Olsen believes the required screening does not have to block the view from residences on higher elevations. Olsen said, “The regulation requires that the discharge points be screened from view in all directions, but that does not mean, in my opinion, that the smokestacks cannot be seen from all directions, they just need to be screened. So, for example, if you are on Goodhill Road, as one of the residents was earlier tonight, and you’re way, way up on the hill, are you going to be able to see the smokestack? Probably. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t have screening all the way around it. So I would say that as far as shooting site lines in all directions, that’s not really the appropriate way to meet regulations. If the Commission would like us to do it then we will prepare a study showing what you can see.”

Regarding the view from the adjacent building, CT Coining, of loading facilities, Olsen believes the regulation does not pertain to ALL views. Olsen said, “We have proposed a number of landscaping elements that screen when you [hearses] drive into the building…as far as this side, the CT Coining property, there’s a 13 foot retaining wall directly adjacent to that loading operation. So, I can’t imagine that would be visible at all. From the top of the building it will certainly be visible from the adjoining property.”

Regarding the 500 foot rule, Olsen believes that the 500 foot rule regulation should only pertain to the part of the building being used for a crematorium, and not measured by the entire building. Olsen said, “The commission has a regulation based on a statute and certainly you might like to ask Mr. Andres [Commission lawyer] for his opinion and that’s fine.” “Our answer to that would be, okay, we’ll separate the crematorium building from the rest by a foot. It’s not really going to violate anything, it’s certainly doable, it’s just very inefficient for us, but if we have to do it we’ll do it.” “We think you should interpret it as…it’s a unit in the building. All of the crematorium operations in that unit are outside of 500 feet.”

Regarding the CT DEEP and CT DPH regulations, referring to the letter from the Bethel Health Department Director of Health, Laura Vasile, Olsen believes that the P&Z should approve their sit plan permit and crematorium use permit before they get approvals from the DEEP and DPH. Olsen said, “I actually was very pleased with Laura Vasile’s letter. I thought it was a good analysis of the regulatory framework we’re operating under. She essentially said this is governed by the DEEP and the DPH so make your applications to them. In response to one of the public comments, we think we have to wait until we are through this process, and the commission has approved the location and the site plan for a special permit, before we can submit to the state. I know that’s the case with the DPH, and I think it’s the case with the DEEP. I wouldn’t want to be there in front of the DEEP with all the detailed data that we have to present for a project that needs approval.”

BETHEL LAND USE

Regarding regulations of CT DEEP and CT DPH, Director of Land Use Steve Palmer said, addressing attorney Olsen, “A lot of the questions about compliance are not DEEP or DPH related, hours of operation, that’s where we locally, you know, obviously have some responsibility.”

Steve Palmer also had concerns about Olsen’s comments that only part of the building (the part that will be used as a crematorium) should be considered when addressing regulations for distance. “The building and the crematorium within it,” Palmer said. Palmer also said, “That’s an engineer’s interpretation of the state statue and I think we need a Zoning interpretation.”

Beth Cavagna of Bethel Land Use addressed Olsen with some concerns. She said, “Peter I just wanted to address you guys, under the special permit criteria, there’s some environmental and conservation aspects to the application, and after doing the site walk, I think I did mention to you and Chip, as far as the crevice that was there and in previous applications, when dealing with up on the hill with Bernie, was it Bernie? they were in for an excavation fill, do a remediation action there. There was concerns dealing with some of the endangered species, Federal and State, in that area, and flora and fauna, limestone, not limestone, actually what is the rock formations there, so we could feel comfortable if you are talking about filling them, and I would just like that to be answered, if we can, during the application process, under the special permit criteria.”

BETHEL HEALTH DEPARTMENT (BHD)

Regarding requirements for their approval of the crematorium site plan and special permit application to construct the 5,000sf building for use as a crematorium, in a letter dated April 14, 2015, from Laura Vasile (Director of Health. Bethel Health Department) to the P&Z, Vasile states in part, “The applicant is required to submit a application to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Department of public Health (DPH) for review and approval of the crematory project.” Vasile also stated, “DEEP has not yet received a permit application for a crematory in Bethel.” The letter also says, “The DPH Toxicologists also shared that crematoriums have the potential to lead to nuisance odor complaints from workers in nearby buildings. Air quality complaints would be referred to BHD and DEEP.” and “The DPH Toxicologist did note that the proposal to have the crematorium within a building with two other industrial tenants may lead to a potential for neighboring worker exposures and given that crematoriums sometimes lead to nuisance odor complaints from workers in nearby buildings, it is critically important that the crematory be properly managed to minimize the release of particulates and odors.”

Regarding hazardous waste and/or emission data NOT submitted by the crematorium applicant, the Vasile letter states, “The project application notes that the crematory hazardous waste and emissions will be addressed in an appropriate manner. No hazardous waste and/or emission data was submitted with the application. The applicant wrote of intent to submit hazardous waste management information to the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission during the application hearing. The DEEP crematoriums permit process and application determination will provide the Commission with verification that the DEEP air regulations and air quality standards are in compliance.”

The Bethel Health Department/Vasile letter says that all DEEP and DPH requirements are met and maintained and incorporated into the Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission project approval. The letter states, “Bethel Health Department (BHD) has no objection to the proposed application as long as the recommended provisions noted below are incorporated into the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission project approval to assure that DEEP and DPH permit requirements and approvals are met and maintained. Crematoriums may lead to nuisance odor/particulate complaints and reasonable planning, design, operation, and a compliant response action plan, can support use of a crematory that meets state statues and regulations, and prevents possible nuisance conditions (particulate odor exposures), for the protection of the environment, workers, and the general public on the site and in the vicinity area….”

BA2_marcus4
Photo above: (Right) Attorney Neil Marcus, representing CT Coining.

THE TESTIMONY FROM NEIL MARCUS, ATTORNEY FOR CT COINING (Business next to proposed site of crematorium)
Regarding retaining wall heights, one retaining wall is over 8 feet, with the engineer’s map saying the wall is about 13-14 feet. Marcus said to the P&Z, that the engineer said anything over 8 feet is in fact a building, a structure, so the retaining wall itself is outside the setback, so what you have before you today is a plan that currently violates your own zoning regulations.” He talked about solutions involving moving the entire building, but that would incur problems with enough area for the loading, “it’s a challenge,” he said. “Right now this plan violates your own regulations.”

Regarding distance required from a residence, Marcus found issues with the boundaries, in that he discovered a residence could possibly be within the allowed boundary lines, also a violation. Marcus said, “It is my understanding that there is a residence in the park itself…we have no distance to that residence. We would like certification that the discharge points are 1000 feet from that residence.” Regarding the screening issues from CT Coining, Marcus requested they shoot site lines so they can see what the heights will be from anywhere on Mr. Marciano’s property, whether he can see the smoke stacks. “We need a pan that shows you can’t see them, applied to your own regulation,” Marcus said to the Commission. Marcus also questioned the correct placement of the vegetation screen that is supposed to block the loading facilities area.

Regarding only counting part of the building, the part used for a crematorium, when calculating distance requirements to a residence, Marcus brought up the definition of a crematorium, as also stated in Steve Palmer’s memorandum he said, he cites the statute as “as use in this section, crematory means a building or structure containing one or more cremation chambers,” that’s a Zoning requirement, not a public health requirement. He said the engineer is not a Zoning expert and suggested that the Commission consult Mr. Andes regarding what he thinks the CT stature means, he said, because “I’ve never seen a situation where you talk about zoning by a portion of a building.” “As far as I’m concerned, this whole building is the crematorium,” Marcus said. He pointed t the area on the plan where the units would be and said, “The unit is within 500 feet and it’s invalid.” Marcus said.

RESIDENTS’ COMMENTS

Moratorium applicant Greg Marciano, from CT Coining, asked “who is the agency that is going to be auditing, to make sure everything that is said, is being done? Is it a town body? Is it a state body? Is it the people sending him the bodies? Who’s going to actually be auditing what they are doing to make sure they are doing what they say they are doing? …It doesn’t sound like anybody is auditing this.”

Resident Mr. Stowle asked when the DEEP and DPH studies would begin, how will we find out about that, how will we be notified when that is happening? What exactly are the proposed air pollution devices that will be put on both retorts? He requested more info., efficiency rates, what kinds of scrubbers what kinds of chemical treatment they use to remove mercury. He stated, “On the downside, it turns out that these retorts are regulated by performance standards, and performance standards are less strict than most standards for air pollution, which means they will more than likely just be looking at the manufacturer’s specs, and knowing what I know about the DEEP and other agencies, they typically take those at worth. What I would suggest is that if it doesn’t come from the town, that it be brought up in the permitting procedure that there be some sort of environmental impact statement done, quantifying the emissions based on varying levels of thru-put of bodies, because theoretically, if we went to a 24 hour a day operation he could be doing 16 bodies a day.” He said, “Getting to the proposed mercury field which the manufacture suggests, it sounds really not that bad when you report things in pounds per hour, normally they are done in grams or milligrams per hour, so in this case, a quick calculation works out to be 153 milligrams per hour (per retort, so you have to double that, he later stated). I got 20 years in the environmental business, that’s a lot.” Regarding particulates, he asked Olsen “what do you mean by ‘well below’?” Stowle asked that two studies be done, “a plume dispersion study, as to where the emissions are going, including a disposition study, as to how it’s being dispersed and then where is it going.”

*****

WE NEED YOUR VOICE.

HELP PROTECT OUR AIR, WATER AND SOIL FROM TOXIC POLLUTION, and SAVE OUR HOME VALUES.

STOP THE CREMATORIUM from being approved in Bethel CT.

Attend the Planning & Zoning Meeting tomorrow, April 28, 7:00 p.m., Municipal Center, Room D, and let your voice be heard.
Also consider signing the petition to STOP THE CREMATORIUM of you haven’t already done so. See link below:

https://www.tinyurl.com/nocrematorium

Additional Press Reports:

Bethel crematorium hearing continued

Published 5:37 pm, Wednesday, March 26, 2014

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Bethel-crematorium-hearing-continued-5351818.php

BETHEL — A hearing on a request for a zone change to allow a crematorium in Bethel was continued until April 22.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted March 25 to continue the hearing based on the request of the applicant, Mono-Crete Step, LLC, a company located at Clarke Business Park.

The company, which has operated since 1974, provides concrete steps, precast concrete products, and iron railings for municipal, commercial, or residential construction projects and concrete vaults used for burials.

The company needs the town to amend its regulations to allow by special permit the facility in the town’s industrial park zone.

Bethel crematorium faces obstacles

Updated 10:51 am, Wednesday, April 30, 2014

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Bethel-crematorium-faces-obstacles-5436324.php

BETHEL — A proposed crematorium — and the hearse traffic it might bring — could discourage other businesses from moving into the town industrial park, economic development officials warn.

Shawn McLoughlin, owner of a precast concrete company on Trowbridge Drive in Clarke Business Park, wants the town to amend its regulations to allow construction of a crematorium on his parcel.

But during a public hearing last week, leaders of the Economic Development Commissionargued that the proposal conflicts with the park’s intended purpose.

Economic Development Chairman Mike Boyle, one of two panel members with businesses in the park, told the Planning and Zoning Commission that the crematorium proposal is an exception to the goal of helping local companies expand.

The economic panel’s concerns included the possibility that hearses moving through the park could discourage other businesses, especially since the town just received state approval to expand the park down Trowbridge Road past McLoughlin’s lot.

“On face value,” Boyle said, “we thought the advantages don’t outweigh the disadvantages.”

McLoughlin, who has a 6-acre parcel and a 20,000-square-foot-building in the business park, said he was disappointed in the EDC’s opposition.

“I think they were created to bring new businesses in,” he said. “I am really disappointed that they found no redeeming factors in the proposal.”

Still, McLoughlin, a 30-year Bethel resident, was not discouraged by the two-hour hearing, which was continued until May 13.

“I think it went fairly well,” McLoughlin said.

During the meeting, a range of issues about the application were discussed, including taxes, employees, environmental studies, the goal of the park, real estate values, traffic, aesthetics and impact on the industrial park zones.

McLoughlin said he surveyed the funeral homes who purchase his concrete vaults and they said they would not use a hearse the majority of the time.

He said he would expect to do about 500 cremations a year, which means there would not be more than two vehicles a day entering the park for this purpose.

The industry is regulated by the state Department of Health.

Connecticut has 18 crematories, including in Oxford, Stamford and Bridgeport, as much as a third less than some states with comparable populations.

The process calls for a funeral home to deliver a casket that would be driven inside his building and unloaded into the furnace. A two-phase system would stop particulate leaving the chimney and result in little smoke.

“I think the members of the board are open,” McLoughlin said of the zoning commission. “I believe they will give us a fair shake. That’s all we can ask for.”

The proposal would also need other approvals.

Board to again discuss crematorium

Published 5:27 pm, Tuesday, July 1, 2014

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Board-to-again-discuss-crematorium-5593846.php

Shawn McLoughlin, owner of Mono-Crete Step Co., a precast concrete company in Bethel, has been making underground vaults that cemeteries use for casket burials for nearly three decades.

McLoughlin requested the regulations be changed to allow a crematorium in the industrial park zone. However, after several meetings over the project, he said he has grown weary.

“We made our presentation. I see no reason why they would turn it down, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” he said.

McLoughlin said there is no evidence to support claims that a crematorium would cause pollution or the devaluation of property.

McLoughlin said sooner or later there will be more of these facilities in the area, due to the rising popularity of cremations.

According to the Cremation Association of North America‘s Cremation Data, by 2015, 44 percent of all deaths will involve cremation.

Crematorium OK’d for Clarke office park in Bethel

Updated 10:11 pm, Monday, August 4, 2014

http://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Crematorium-OK-d-for-Clarke-office-park-in-Bethel-5667506.php

BETHEL — Town land-use officials have cleared the way for a crematorium to be developed in the Clarke Business Park.

Officials with the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the use for the industrial park zone during their regular meeting on July 22 at the request of a local entrepreneur who was interested in the business.

Shawn McLoughlin, owner of a MonoCrete, precast concrete company on Trowbridge Drive in the park, has said that he would be interested in constructing a state-of-the-art crematorium as an addition to his current business.

For decades, the company has been making precast concrete products including underground vaults that are used for burials. However, demand for the underground vaults have waned in recent years as cremations have become a more popular and inexpensive alternative to traditional burials.

“When I started in the vault business, 15 to 20 percent of deaths were cremations, but that number is close to 50 percent now,” McLoughlin, who could not be reached for comment Monday, said recently when unveiling the proposal. “Somebody’s got to do it. There are not enough crematoriums in the state to deal with what’s going on in the industry. We’ve been around a long time and have a good reputation. We have kept our business by being reliable and responsible.”

Mike Boyle, chairman of the town’s economic development commission, has expressed concerns that a crematorium may not be the best use for the park as officials look to expand the facility.

Local economic development officials announced last week that they received a $100,000 state grant that will be used to design a 10-acre expansion of the park past McLoughlin’s business on Trowbridge Drive.

The expansion could make way for as many as five two-acre parcels or could be developed to include condo-style commercial units that would further increase the potential density at the site.

Economic development director Janice Chrzescijanek said a consultant has been hired who will study the property and recommend a variety of layouts for the site. In the end, Chrzescijanek said, officials will select what’s in the best interest of the town and what plan might be most marketable moving forward.

Land-use officials said Monday that McLoughlin has yet to submit a site plan application for a crematorium.

Bethel crematory proposal withdrawn

Published 9:35 pm, Friday, January 23, 2015

http://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Bethel-crematory-proposal-withdrawn-6036629.php

BETHEL — A controversial proposal to build a crematorium at the Francis J. Clarke Business Park has been withdrawn by the applicants.

Officials with the MonoCrete company, which is already located in the park on Trowbridge Lane, confirmed on Friday that their application to construct a new building on the site for a crematorium has been removed from thePlanning and Zoning Commission, where it was pending.

Shelby McCloughlin, the office manager for the family owned company, said that while they hope to submit the application again in the near future, issues that have arisen with their current building have to be addressed before they can move forward with the new business enterprise.

Cremations have been rising in popularity in recent years as an alternative to more costly burials. MonoCrete, which produces a variety of products, including burial vaults, was hoping to expand its business into the growing market.

“Right now, we want to stand back a little bit and deal with some other issues that have arisen before moving forward,” McCloughlin said Friday. “We are still keeping our options open for the future and plan to resubmit our application.”

McCloughlin declined to elaborate on when an application would be submitted or what issues need to be addressed with the current building.

The initial application last year for a zoning amendment that would allow crematoriums in an industrial park zone was met with an outcry from some members of the park and the localEconomic Development Commission, which oversaw the park at the time of the original application.

Mike Boyle, the commission’s chairman and a property owner in the park, said he was concerned that having a crematorium on site would limit future development at a time when they are looking to expand the park and are receiving interest from several companies who want to expand or locate there. He added some of those negotiations stalled when talk of the crematorium surfaced.

Boyle said Friday he was pleased the application was withdrawn and the plans have been put on hold, at least for now. Whether that means negotiations with potential tenants could be reinstated, he said, could depend on what the future holds.

“We really need to understand their (MonoCrete’s) intent before we can reengage people in negotiations,” he said.

Boyle added that while crematoriums are now allowed in the zone due to the amendment passed by zoning officials last year, MonoCrete is the only company that has expressed an interest in the use.

The controversy surrounding the proposal also led tenants to question rules and regulations governing the park that had been in place since it was founded in the 1970s. The commission had been in the process of renewing and revising those regulations, but the effort failed before the rules expired earlier this month.

Questioning crematorium project proposed for Bethel

Published 3:47 pm, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Questioning-crematorium-project-proposed-for-6246571.php

Bethel residents, are you aware of the fact that the town of Bethel is considering allowing a crematorium to be built in the Clark Business Park? Do you know that a crematorium could have a negative effect on real estate values?

Do you know that a crematorium poses numerous health hazards, including toxic vapors which can get into the water and earth and cause extreme illness and possible death? Do you care that future generations may suffer severe health issues and birth defects from the toxic fumes created by a crematorium?

How would the citizens of Bethel benefit from a crematorium? Personally I cannot think of any benefit of having a crematorium in our quaint little town.

I sincerely hope that the citizens of Bethel will seriously consider how you feel about having this business operating in Bethel.

I cannot stress enough the importance of making your feelings known to the Planning and Zoning board at the next meeting.

The next scheduled meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 12, at the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center, at 7 p.m.

Please come and be a part of protecting our environment and people of Bethel as well as our future generations. Please come and make your voices heard.

Teresa A. Fogel

Bethel

Bethel crematorium proposal irks neighbors

Updated 7:41 pm, Thursday, May 7, 2015

http://www.ctpost.com/printpromotion/article/Bethel-crematorium-proposal-irks-neighbors-6249424.php

BETHEL — When Mitch Gross was looking for place to open an antique car showroom, the picturesque setting of Francis J. Clarke Business Park quickly pulled him in. But days after he bought property there last month, Gross learned that the neighbor across the street was seeking to open a business burning human remains.

“Shame on me,” he said, for not knowing that the town had been reviewing an application for a crematorium for several months.

Gross, whose office is in New Rochelle, N.Y., said he’s considering selling the Trowbridge Drive property in Bethel just weeks after buying it.

“We’re not going to move to that location if this crematorium is approved,” he said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will continue a public hearing on the proposed crematorium Tuesday.

Bethel bans crematoriums, with a catch

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BETHEL — The Planning and Zoning Commission repealed Tuesday night a regulation allowing moratorium applications in the industrial park zone, but the ban will not stop Monocrete’s request to turn its business into a crematorium.

The public hearing on that application was continued to May 26.

The commission voted 4-3 to reverse its July 2014 decision to allow crematorium use at Francis J. Clarke Business Park and to immediately set a one-year moratorium on any new crematorium applications. The vote does not affect Monocrete’s application process because its latest bid was filed in April.

Dozens of residents, including several business owners, spoke against the proposed crematorium at the meeting. Many of them expressed concern with property values, health hazards and environmental risks.

Shawn McLoughlin, who owns Monocrete, has said the changing funeral industry has led more people to opt for cremation over burial, since cremation is cheaper and takes up less cemetery space. His business produces a variety of products, including burial vaults, at 12 Trowbridge Drive. He now wants to add a new building on the site to perform cremations.

Bethel commission throws crematorium plan in doubt

Updated 10:51 pm, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Bethel-commission-throws-crematorium-plan-in-doubt-6261419.php

BETHEL — The Planning and Zoning Commission has repealed a regulation that opened the door to a crematorium in the town’s industrial park, but the move will not affect an existing proposal to open such a business.

During a commission meeting earlier this week, dozens of passionate residents and business owners turned out to voice opposition to the project. Many said they worry about health hazards, environmental risks and the impact on property values and on the town’s economy.

Commissioners did not decide on the application itself, continuing the public hearing to May 26, but they voted 4-3 to reverse a July 2014 amendment to the zoning code that had allowed crematorium use at Francis J. Clarke Business Park.

“It’s going to send a clear message that we don’t want a crematorium in the town,” said commission member Donald Brown.

Although commissioners appear to be leaning against the proposal, rejecting the plan won’t be easy if the applicant meets all the criteria, officials said. But they do have some discretion when it comes to granting a special permit, which is part of the application.

Commission Chairman Pat Rist admitted making a mistake when she voted for the regulation change last summer.

“A year ago, I voted for the text amendment because based on all the information we had, it appeared to be a reasonable text amendment,” she said. “It’s obvious that the business owners are extremely concerned about this, and one thing I don’t want to see (is) an exodus out of the park. That’s not healthy for Bethel.”

The applicant, Shawn McLoughlin, owns Monocrete, a concrete company that produces a variety of products, including burial vaults, at 12 Trowbridge Drive. He wants to add a new building on the site to perform cremations.

McLoughlin, who did not appear at Tuesday’s meeting, has said the changing funeral industry has led more people to opt for cremation over burial, since it is cheaper and takes up less cemetery space.

His attorney, Peter Olson, briefly addressed the commission Tuesday to ask for more time to complete an engineering study. He also announced the plan has changed so the new building is “completely separate” from the existing one.

Speakers who expressed concern about the economic impact on Bethel said several business owners and residents are considering leaving the town.

Mitch Gross, who a month ago bought a property across the street from Monocrete, said he did not know about the proposed crematorium when he was searching for a place to open an antique car showroom and will note move in if the crematorium proposal is approved.

“The question is no longer whether this crematorium will damage Bethel,” he said. “The question now is how bad the damage will be and will Bethel recover from it?”

Other businesses opposing the plan include Holbrook Farm, whose owners fear could lose its organic certification, and Sky Zone.

Gross spoke at the hearing about a 2010 study on the impact a crematorium had on a small Wyoming town. The report shows that the closer a property was to that facility, the lower its value was.

He also said he fears the applicant’s lack of experience in burning human remains.

“I do not see anything in this applicant’s experience or background that would lead me to believe that he has the technical knowledge, managerial skills and discipline necessary to ensure the population of Bethel that their environment and air quality will be properly safeguarded,” Gross said. “It is clear that no matter how well the units are constructed or run they will emit pollutants.”

Gross and other speakers asked the commission to require an environmental impact study, but Olson urged the panel not to impose “a higher standard” from his client since the facility would need approval from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“We are going to have to demonstrate to the DEEP that we meet all the state requirements,” Olson said. “If we don’t get the DEEP approval, we can’t open.”

Planning and Zoning Director Steve Palmer said the commission does have the right to request an additional study from the applicant, but the panel did not do that Tuesday.

The amendment and moratorium approved this week were proposed by Greg Marciano, another business owner unhappy with the plan.

“It’s really not a good thing for Bethel or the park,” he said, adding that he fears a crematorium could damage the town’s reputation.

Bethel faces another fight over zoning in crematorium plan

Published 12:37 am, Sunday, May 24, 2015

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Bethel-faces-another-fight-over-zoning-in-6283734.php

BETHEL — Less than a year after the town was embroiled in a monthslong dispute over the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary, another controversial zoning proposal has ignited vigorous public debate.

That debate centers on health and safety issues raised by plans to build a crematorium at the Francis J. Clarke Business Park.

Opponents fear that smokestack emissions could pose a risk to humans and drive down the value of neighboring homes and businesses.

“The industry is assuring everyone that they have the means to scrub the stack, that nothing will escape,” said John Holbrook, co-owner of the nearby Holbrook Farm Market & Bakery. “That’s a joke.”

But there is little scientific data on the subject, and the applicant argues that the risks are minimal.

“It’s virtually nothing,” said Shawn McLoughlin. “There’s more pollution coming out of the stack of any of my diesel trucks than there is coming out of a crematorium.”

McLoughlin, a 30-year Bethel resident, plans to cremate one or two bodies a day in a new building adjacent to Mono-Crete, the pre-cast concrete business he owns on Trowbridge Road.

Crematoriums can indeed emit pollutants including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and other organic compounds, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. But the organization points out that a two-phase system of incineration keeps emissions of such substances to a minimum.

The biggest concern might relate to toxic vaporized mercury, which is released from dental amalgam, the silver-colored material used to fill cavities in teeth. Holbrook said that if he runs soil tests and finds residues of mercury, dioxins or other chemicals in his property, he would have to close his business.

“I have 500 chickens out on range, and dioxin goes straight into eggs,” he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled in the late 1990s that emissions from burning human remains are not subject to the Clear Air Act. But the agency has warned against the risks from incinerating mercury, because the airborne toxin can be brought to earth in rain and snow to rest in water bodies, land and vegetation, according to the agency’s website.

In Connecticut, crematoriums are regulated by the state Department of Public Health, which requires them to obtain a permit to open and to submit to occasional safety inspections.

McLoughlin’s plan appears to accord with state statutes barring the location of a crematorium within 500 feet of any residential structure. The Planning and Zoning Commission received his latest application in April and will hold a public hearing on it June 9.

McLoughlin is trying to capitalize on what appears to be a booming industry in the U.S.

In 2013, the last year for which data is available, 45 percent of deceased Americans were cremated instead of buried, up from 36 percent five years earlier, according to a report by theCremation Association of North America. By 2018, the cremation rate is projected to top 50 percent, the report shows.

Cremation rates in Connecticut are slightly above the national average, rising from 39 percent in 2008 to 49 percent in 2013, according to the report. The state has 18 crematoriums, including in Oxford, Bridgeport and Stamford.

CANA Executive Director Barbara Kemmis said the industry is growing because cremation has become more acceptable as religious-based objections diminish, cemeteries get more crowded and traditional burial services get more expensive.

Kemmis argues that cremation, performed at 1,400 to 1,800 degrees, is actually is a “greener” option than burial. Typically, she said, the body is placed in a casket, which is burned inside one chamber that is itself surrounded by a second chamber.

“By the time the air is released, there is no visible emission, (except) maybe a smell of hot air or hot metal form the machine itself,” she said.

Still, residents have held demonstrations, submitted letters to the town and even created an online petition on Change.org, called “Don’t let the dead kill the living,” that has so far garnered more than 300 signatures .

“Besides having dead bodies aboard trucks driving through Bethel roads each month, the larger concern should be about the impact on the air quality in Bethel to humans and animals,” said Paula Antolini, the author of the petition.

During a May 12 public hearing on the application, at least two residents and one business owner threatened to leave the town if the crematorium is approved.

Laura Soll, a spokesman for the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association, said she understands why residents urge caution when such applications come around.

“People will be anxious about it because it’s something new,” she said.

McLoughlin disputes the claims that his business would affect residential properties.

“We’re not in the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re in an industrial park. It’s a legitimate, honest business that somebody has got to do.”

Crematorium plan draws opposition for environmental worries

http://wtnh.com/2015/05/25/crematorium-plan-draws-opposition-for-environmental-worries/

BETHEL, Conn. (AP) — A proposed crematorium in Bethel has generated opposition over environmental concerns.

The Connecticut Post reports that Shawn McLoughlin plans to cremate one or two bodies a day in a new building adjacent to a concrete business he owns. He says pollution is “virtually nothing” and that more pollution comes out of the stack of his diesel trucks than from a crematorium

John Holbrook, co-owner of nearby Holbrook Farm Market and Bakery, dismisses assurances the crematorium will not pollute. He says mercury or dioxin residue would force him to shut his business.

One concern might relate to vaporized mercury released from dental amalgam used to fill cavities in teeth.

Crematoriums are regulated by the state Department of Public Health, which requires the businesses to obtain a permit and submit to occasional safety inspections.

Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com

Report and Photography by Paula Antolini
May 20, 2015 1:16PM EDT

UPDATE:

Public Hearing May 26 for the crematorium is continued to June 16.
_______

ORIGINAL POST:

Bethel Residents and Business Owners Outraged Over Proposed Crematorium; Protest Rally May 23, Public Hearing June 16

The plan, which has been in the works for over a year now, has many in the community heated up.

http://patch.com/connecticut/bethel/bethel-residents-and-business-owners-outraged-over-proposed-crematorium-protest-rally-may-23-public

Press Release:

BETHEL RESIDENTS, BUSINESS OWNERS OUTRAGED OVER PROPOSED CREMATORIUM

Residents and business owners are outraged over a plan to add a stand-alone crematory in Clarke Business Park, near businesses and family neighborhoods. The plan, which has been in the works for over a year now, has many in the community heated up. They believe the crematorium will be a nuisance that will lower property values, negatively impact the environment and harm the health and welfare of Bethel and surrounding communities.

Clarke Business Park is a beautiful area where residents ride bikes and go-cart races are held. Abutting the property, Sympaug Pond is part of a watershed system that feeds into neighboring towns. Opponents fear that emissions from the crematorium will pollute the air, soil and water making the area unsafe. Issues raised at Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) hearings include concerns that toxins could potentially harm people working nearby, especially residents with small children and pets who cannot escape the toxins.

The crematory issue has been ongoing since early 2014 when B. Shawn McLoughlin applied for a zoning change to allow a crematorium in the park on the same property as his present business, Mono-crete Step Co. LLC, which was approved despite opposition. Controversy followed as a battle ensued between the Economic Development Committee (EDC), and members of the P&Z over who had authority to enforce park rules. A “Special Town Meeting” was held on December 29, 2014, to decide whether to extend the tenure of the EDC for ten years. There was poor public notification of this meeting that was held over the holidays when many people were unaware it was happening. The vote was 28-26 against extending the tenure.

The first application was withdrawn due to violations at the current business, including the lack of a Certificate of Occupancy for the past 15 years and problems with site plan modifications not in compliance with the original plan. The applicant then submitted a new crematorium building and special use permit application discussed at the May 12 meeting, which was also found to have violations.

A request for a one-year moratorium on new crematory applications and a reversal of the zoning change to allow a crematory in the park was submitted by the adjacent business owner, Greg Marciano, and both were approved in a work session following the May 12 public hearing. The vote does not affect the present applications. During the work session, Chairwoman Rist said, “I made a mistake,” regarding her vote on the first zoning change.

Opponents at P&Z hearings have grown in numbers, filling the room to capacity and overflowing into the hallway. Nobody at the meeting spoke in favor of the crematory other than the applicant’s lawyer. The group Bethel Matters, led by local community advocate Paula Antolini, includes support from Skyzone, CT Coining, GHM Garage, Soho Designs, and Holbrook Farm, an all-natural farm that will have to shut down if the crematory is approved.

A Protest Rally is planned for May 23, 2015 at 12:00 noon on the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Library Place.

A petition started by Antolini, available online at http://tinyurl.com/nocrematorium has gathered over 300 signatures. The petition is also available to sign in person at the protest rally.

Additional facts regarding the Bethel proposed crematorium can be found at http://betheladvocate.com/

THE NEXT P&Z PUBLIC HEARING: JUNE 16, 7:00 PM, in the DENIS RIORDAN ROOM D, CLIFFORD J. HURGIN MUNICIPAL CENTER, 1 SCHOOL ST, BETHEL CT.


*****

Crematorium Applicant McLoughlin Slaps Lawsuit on Bethel P&Z and Bethel Business Owner

See copy of lawsuit and recap of crematorium controversy here.

http://patch.com/connecticut/bethel/crematorium-applicant-mcloughlin-slaps-lawsuit-bethel-pz-bethel-business-owner-0

Report by Paula Antolini

June 12, 2015 3:50PM EDT

Crematorium Applicant McLoughlin Slaps Lawsuit on Bethel P&Z and Bethel Business Owner

Since the last Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) crematorium hearing on May 12, 2015, the P&Z received a civil summons, eight pages long, from crematorium applicant (plaintiff) B. Shawn McLoughlin. McLoughlin, represented by Attorney Peter Olsen, owns Mono-crete Step Co. LLC, at 12 Trowbridge Drive, Bethel CT, the same property where he wants to build the crematory. Also being sued is Gregory Marciano, owner of Connecticut Coining, the business next door to the proposed crematorium location at 10 Trowbridge Drive. Both are in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park, entrance is on Grassy Plain Street.

According to the Civil Summons in the Superior Court of the State Connecticut, plaintiff B. Shawn McLoughlin is seeking:

“1) The judgement of the Court reversing the decision of the Commission in directing the Commission to deny the Amendment Application and the Moratorium Application;
2) Restraining order staying the Commission’s decision on the Amendment Application and the Moratorium Application pursuant to General statutes §8-8(h);
3) Statutory costs and;
4) Such other relief as in law or equity may apply.”

The summons has a return date of June 23, 2015, for the P&Z and CT Coining to reply.

To VIEW 8 PAGES OF THE SUMMONS and read more details about the controversy and lawsuit, click here.

*****

BETHEL

Photo caption: Mitch Gross (photo at top of article, upper left) uses charts and maps detailing negative facts about having a crematorium in a town, based on a professional study, during his presentation to the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) on May 12, 2015 to oppose the crematorium. Gross is the owner of a commercial property at 13 Trowbridge Drive in Clarke Business park in Bethel, CT, across the street from the proposed crematorium site, that he recently purchased this year but was not told about the proposed crematorium before purchase. He was planning on moving his high end antique classic car company to Bethel. He, and other business owners, now plan on selling if the crematorium is approved. Some have already out their properties up for sale, such as Mr. Johnny Choi, who owns Soho Designs and three other properties, all up for sale. Choi’s businesses would have provided many jobs and now will mean a loss of $41,000 in revenue for Bethel if he leaves. Other photos show some of the individuals (not all) who opposed the crematorium and gave comments at the P&Z meeting. (Click on images to view larger, then again on next page to enlarge again.)

More information to come!

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