LARGO - Twelve days from now the City Commission chamber at City Hall may be as crowded and as negatively enthusiastic as the Planning Board meeting on September 7 was.
At issue two weeks ago was the dreadful question of putting a crematory on Wilcox Road, hard by the cemetery Moss-Feaster maintains.
The room was packed at the Planning Board meeting with local residents clamoring against any such notion of putting a body-burning facility next door to their homes.
Several hours of discussion and debate wound up with the Planning Board very definitely, by a 4-2 vote, rejecting the idea of placing the crematory near residences. The very idea is unpalatable to any sensitive citizen.
Now the issue goes to the City Commission which will take it up at its October 3 meeting.
That ought to be interesting. Two members of the commission - Harriet Crozier and Gigi Arntzen - have had ties to Moss-Feaster, the company proposing to build the crematory.
But something like this is right down Largo's alley. Conflicts of interest - direct or tangential - are old stories among Largo folks. (The apparent argument is that "it doesn't conflict with what I want, so it's okay.")
In the legal sense of conflict of interest, there probably is none. Crozier just retired from the undertaking establishment and has, perhaps, a keener interest out of loyalty and other aspects than Arntzen who was employed there some time ago.
Crozier says she wants to do the right thing and who knows what that means - "right thing" for whom?
But this angle should not be the overriding one.
Bruce McManus, a lawyer who is active at least as a voice in Largo affairs, has cited the legalities and did so in an e-mail memorandum to the mayor and commission just last week.
McManus's interpretation of the Comprehensive Development Code finds that the crematory, which he calls an industrial use, should be right next to a residential area - especially an area where the residents have made loud and persistent noises against it.
But then, the funeral parlor and its cemetery is an influential business in the city, witness a recent mayor Thom Feaster who was connected to it, and, more recently, Crozier. So there may be some influence there.
Nearby residents fear increased traffic, noise, lights, odors and emissions. Some of those fears may be groundless. Perhaps the overriding objection is the nature of the facility itself. Who wants to be reminded of the physical end of friends and neighbors, let alone the more horrifying memory of the ovens of Auschwitz?
Then there is the unsavory notion in people's minds that the facility, if approved, will have storage capability of up to 100 corpses. That is not a pleasant idea and calls up the old pictures of a "feets do your stuff" cartoon character hustling away from those scary places where "hants" may hang out.
To the minds of the folks living in the Wilcox Road area where the crematory would be located it is not compatible.
It has been noted that public opposition is not the measure of incompatibility which is true, no doubt, in the legal sense.
In the final analysis this will be a political question and when it comes before the commission in a week and a half what may be on the minds of the mayor and commissioners is how long voters memories are.
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