Youngwood, PA

Good Morning;

I live in Youngwood, PA ( It’s a very small community and I have loved living there for the past 14 years. I live on a dead end and there are a few businesses on my street. I am surrounded by neighbors of all kinds. We have community yard sales, small town parades and love our community.

Recently the elderly lady who lived at the end of my road passed away and the house was sold to a couple who are in the process of erecting a crematory. This facility will be located very close to local homes. We are trying to get our local television station, who seems interested, in telling our story. We are in the beginning stages of protesting the crematory and would like to join CAN to get additional information about what we can do and what the dangers might be with this facility.

Any information would be appreciated!

Thank you

Youngwood residents upset over crematory construction in neighborhood
Residents concerned over property values, gas and odor emissions
By Ashlie Hardway, Channel 4 WTAE

YOUNGWOOD, Pa. —Residents in Youngwood are upset over a crematory being built in a residential neighborhood.

The crematory, which doesn’t have an anticipated open date, is being built across from two light industrial buildings on North 7th Street. The businesses sit in the middle of a neighborhood with homes and apartments.

VIDEO: Watch Ashlie Hardway’s report

Some residents are upset because they’re worried the crematory will emit fumes or dangerous gases. They are also worried their property values will decline because potential homeowners won’t want to live next to a crematory.

“If this type of business can come into our neighborhood, what is next?” Michelle Cairns said.

Sam Dragovich owns the metals business across the street from the crematory. He also owns the plot of land directly next to the crematory.

“I was going to build a new house over there. My wife actually said, after she saw what was happening over there, that there’s no way she wants to live there,” Dragovich said. “I understand that somebody has to make a living and somebody has to do a business. I do a business every day. To do it in a neighborhood, I think it was a bad decision.”

Youngwood Borough does not have zoning in place, council President Lloyd Crago said.

“We’re looking to bring zoning back into Youngwood. Would that make a difference in this? I don’t know. Because this area right here is for light industrial already,” Crago said.

The owner of the crematory, Jeff Barnhart, said his plan was to move the crematory in the Derry area to Youngwood because it was closer to a lot of the funeral homes with which he does business. Barnhart said residents will not smell any odors nor see smoke emitting from the crematory.*

Dr. Barry Lease, a professor at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Sciences, said crematories are regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection. Lease said a properly-operated crematory will only emit steam and will not emit an odor. If a crematory starts to emit colored smoke or an odor, it is a sign that something is wrong.

Barnhart said the crematory has a dual chamber, so smoke and gases from the process go through the chamber before byproducts are emitted from the building.

Residents who would like to voice concerns to Youngwood Borough officials can do so at the upcoming council meetings on April 27 and May 4.


Youngwood residents plan to fight idea for crematory

Michelle Cairns isn’t happy about the possibility of a new neighbor.
“You look out my kitchen window and I can see the (proposed) crematory,” the Youngwood woman said Monday.
Cairns’ concern stems from a plan by Professional Cremation Service LLC to move from Derry Township to a vacant building on North Seventh Street in Youngwood, an area that’s a mix of businesses and houses.
Jeff Barnhart, a Greensburg funeral director and co-owner of the crematory with Thomas Grim, said he understands the concerns and will address them during a borough council meeting next month.
But as they watched Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania install a line to the business Monday, residents said they’re not waiting until that meeting to take action.
“We have a petition going. We’re concerned about emissions, property values and psychological issues for the children,” Cairns said.
Barnhart said his facility will have to adhere to strict regulations.
“We’re regulated by the DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) and locally as well,” he said. “We’re not out to ruin anyone, but it’s an … ideal location for us geographically.”
As of late 2014, 151 crematories were operating in Pennsylvania, including 109 owned by funeral homes and 21 operated by cemeteries, according to the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association in Harrisburg, a group representing 1,100 funeral homes across the state.
People often oppose crematories because of health concerns and the feeling of “not in my backyard,” said John Eirkson, the association’s executive director.
He added the facilities must meet environmental regulations. “I’m not aware of any research that shows property values are affected by this,” he said.
Even if they wanted to do something about the crematory, Youngwood officials can’t because the town lacks zoning regulations, council President Lloyd Crago said.
If zoning did exist, the property would likely be zoned for light industrial development and a crematorium would be permitted, Crago said.
The state environmental agency is reviewing Professional Cremation Service’s application, spokesman John Poister said. Crematories must meet air quality standards for particulates, he said.
The state agency will inspect the facility at its startup, Barnhart said.
A trained operator must be on hand “at all times” when the cremation unit is being operated, according to the permit application filed with the state.
Professional Cremation has applied for building and occupancy permits from the state Department of Labor and Industry, said Barnhart, adding that he hopes to begin operations later this summer.
But neighbors remain concerned.
Beverly Struble of North Eighth Street said she turned to the Internet when she learned about the crematory Monday. Her worries mostly center on emissions, she said.
“It’s really, really upsetting,” Struble said. “I don’t know much about crematories, but it should be in a field, not set right down in the public … not right in the middle of a neighborhood.”
John Solo, a Roosevelt Street resident, said he worries about odors and children being near the crematorium.
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” he added.
Charles Lutz of North Sixth Street said he doesn’t oppose the crematory.
“I have no positive, no negative about it,” he said. “Somebody’s trying to do a business.”
The residents’ petition will be presented to borough council later this month and perhaps to state officials, Cairns said.
“I have nothing against a crematory, but it just doesn’t belong in a neighborhood,” she said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or

Youngwood residents decry potential crematory
Apr 14, 2015, 7:58am EDT STAFF, Pittsburg Business Times
Plans to build a crematory in the Westmoreland County town of Youngwood are causing some controversy among people who live near the site.
Residents told WTAE-TV they’re concerned about smells or emissions from the plant, although the owner told the station there won’t be anything other than steam coming from the proposed dual-chamber facility.
It’s not the first time a crematory in the region has caused controversy. Peters Township residents fought against a crematory being placed on Route 19 in the township.

The proposed crematory is currently stopped due to the fact that there is no sewage on the property. The rumour going around is that there *may* be a 5 year moratorium on new sewage permits for the Borough. We are trying to verify this information and will post an update when we know for sure. Sewage is necessary for operations including but not limited to the disposal of bodily fluids during the embalming process. Additionally the crematory unit is cleaned by using pressurized water, cleaning agents, and scrubbers. This contaminated water goes down a sewer drain and into the surrounding soil causing even more problems. We are not clear whether this proposed crematory operation intends to embalm, but it is standard procedure in about 50% of cremations. The reason is unclear, other than to allow the family to view the deceased there is no real benefit to embalming a corpse that will be cremated.


1 Response to Youngwood, PA

  1. Tia Severino says:

    Please see the post on this blog “a note on why the EPA doesn’t regulate crematories” which you can access the link on the right side –>
    The assertion that this crematory will be regulated is false. The DEP will do nothing more than check to see that the crematory operates and it will not even be required to pass the state air quality standards for mercury and other toxic emissions.
    Regarding Mr. Eirkson’s statement that he is unaware of any data indicating crematories impact property values, please see the Penn State study on the crematory emissions data page. (Link at top of page)

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