LARGO - A Largo lawyer and activist in city affairs has sounded a theme that will probably be part of the debate when the plans for a crematorium in Southwest Largo come before the City Commission.
Bruce McManus, who sounded a dire warning on a certain lifestyle that was extolled recently in a neat piece of advocacy journalism that appeared in Pinellas County's only daily newspaper last Sunday, has cited "incompatibility" as an argument against the crematorium that the Moss Feaster funeral parlor wants to plunk down adjacent to a residential neighborhood.
It is going to be interesting when this issue gets to the commission and it is going to the commission because the elected officials have taken the decision out of the hands of the city's staff.
A scorching hot potato, there will be strong opposition from residents in the Wilcox Road neighborhood and at least one commissioner will not be allowed to participate in any discussion or vote on the case.
That member is Harriet Crozier who works for the funeral parlor and owner of the cemetery and planned crematorium. In a city that winks at election violations, nepotism, cronyism and conflicts of interest Crozier's participation is going to be from the sidelines because residents are waking up and have had quite enough.
Another close call may be Commissioner Gigi Arntzen who worked for the funeral parlor at one time. There apparently is no connection now between her and the business.
McManus, in a May 31 letter to the mayor and commission, points out that a crematory is an industrial use.
"The issue of incompatibility should have been recognized when a land use criteria was accepted allowing cemeteries in a use contemplated for schools and churches," McManus wrote.
McManus cited the city's mistaken granting of a garage structure in a single family residential neighborhood. He pointed out that Mike Staffopoulos, the city's Director of Community Development, admitted that was a mistake attributable to "human error" by a city employee.
This mistake should serve as a learning experience, McManus cautioned.
In the case of the crematory, McManus wrote, "The incompatibility issue should have been obvious when allowing crematories in existing cemeteries which abut residential neighborhoods."
In addition to the unsavory idea of having human remains go partly up in smoke up a chimney a hop, skip and a jump from one's home, the effect on property values would have to be devastating.
McManus said because a crematory is an industrial process it belong in an industrial use district. "It is not an ancillary use that belongs in another district," he wrote.
"The city should address this issue head-on and deny any permit for an incompatible use," McManus urged the mayor and commission.
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