Plans for crematorium in Elkridge hit snag Owner of proposed site yields to local opposition

August 16, 1996|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Plans to open a crematorium in an industrial building in Elkridge have suffered a serious setback now that the property owner -- bowing to neighborhood pressure -- has decided against allowing the business.

"The neighbors are just not interested in this facility," said Thomas Martel, managing partner of the company that owns the building on South Hanover Road. "We want to be good neighbors."

The decision has sent the developers of the project, Capitol Crematorium of Columbia, scrambling to win over neighbors or find another site in the area.

"We've got to continue to educate the people of Elkridge so they get over some of their unfounded hang-ups with respect to the project," said Fred Glassberg, a developer representing Capitol Crematorium.

The company, a father-son partnership led by Gerald Hamel, a Columbia business professor, wants to build Howard County's first crematorium in an existing building on South Hanover Road, behind Normandy Ford's body shop. The crematorium would incinerate up to three bodies a day for funeral homes throughout the region.

The emissions from a 7-foot stack on the roof would not be harmful, according to the manufacturer.

Although it does not have a site, the partnership plans to seek approval for its project at the Howard County Board of Appeals. The hearing is scheduled for Sept. 17.

But neighbors in Harwood Park, about 500 feet from the proposed site, reacted angrily to the proposal.

Two weeks ago, they packed a Howard County Planning Board hearing to argue that the crematorium would give off harmful, malodorous emissions and lower property values.

The Planning Board approved the project, leaving the Board of Appeals as the county's last hurdle for Capitol Crematorium.

Martel, however, read of the neighbors' complaints and decided against allowing the crematorium in the South Hanover Road building.

"We didn't have an agreement with those folks," Martel said.

Glassberg said he expects to begin looking for another site in Elkridge for the crematorium.

Pub Date: 8/16/96

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