Erie County legislators on Thursday blocked the reopening of a controversial crematory on Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda.
Criticizing the facility's smell and soot, residents of an adjacent neighborhood have opposed the operation in recent years and Amigone Funeral Home voluntarily shut it down. The family-owned company had planned to re-open with new technology for cremations.
The operation existed on the site because Erie County, in 1991, designated part of a parking lot as a cemetery and the firm put the crematory there. Legislators elected, in a bipartisan seven-to-four vote, to remove that designation.
"It was said at that time, it's going to be colorless, it's going to be odorless," said Republican Legislator Kevin Hardwick. "It's not as if the Amigone family was disingenuous. I'm sure they really believed that the technology was going to work. The problem was, it didn't work."
Legislator Edward Rath says the decision is likely to lead to a lawsuit from Amigone. Other legislators say they have been assured by county lawyers there is a good legal case for the designation removal and the county will use its own lawyers.