Neighbors oppose funeral home and crematory - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Neighbors oppose funeral home and crematory

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Residents near Common and Oakwood Streets in Lake Charles don't want bodies being cremated next to their neighborhood. And apparently, those who proposed a funeral home and crematorium have heard their cries of opposition.

At this point, it appears developers are withdrawing the crematory part of their proposal at that location. Developers were seeking the City Council's approval for a proposed new 30,000-square-foot funeral home, along with a crematorium. Some residents here oppose both -- but especially the crematorium.

Dr. Sundaram Swetharanyam has lived here for 40 years.

"Number one, the crematoriums are never, never, never put near residential areas. I got a lot of research reports on the bad effects of emissions, toxins coming out of that thing.  The second thing is there are two schools nearby, elementary schools," he said. He also opposes the funeral home due to traffic issues.

Resident Al Prater is against the crematorium but said if traffic concerns are addressed he wouldn't object to the funeral home.

"These streets are not designed. We have children in the neighborhood that live here. For the safety of those people, we don't want that additional traffic. The traffic can come and go off Common Street and they have plenty of front footage there that they can have driveways to allow traffic in and out of their parking lot," Prater said.

It appears developers have heard the neighbors concerns. City Council member for the area Mark Eckard said they've agreed to withdraw the crematorium from plans for the site.

"Well, we just received word today from the architect who made the application that the crematory, which has been a big concern, has been deleted from the proposal. So, they're no longer proposing to have a crematory at that location," he said.

Eckard said the City Council will consider the issue Nov. 7. He said they are keeping an open mind. 

"You want to hear the applicant. You want to hear what they want to do. You want to hear the residents who have any opposition or problems or questions," he said.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended in favor of the project but the City Council has the final decision. The application  filed by Randy Goodloe, goes before the full city council at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Swetharanyam is one of those fighting the proposed development. A petition he and others have signed sets forth the following claims:

This is a big business establishment and has no place in a totally residential area.

Crematoriums are human-made and are susceptible to failure, and leakage of toxic vapor, including Mercury. Just think of Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant and Chernobyl. No assurances will be adequate on this concern.

The poisonous gas will impact on the health of every resident in this area, more so on seniors who are the majority of residents.

The odor from a burning body is unimaginable and will be felt in the entire area.

The property value in this area will take a substantial hit.

Many other cities have DISAPPROVED similar permit requests for same reasons.

The two lane roads in the surrounding area, with 25 MPH speed limits and two-way traffic, will be overloaded.

The zone change given by the Lake Charles Planning and Zoning Commission was NOT in the best interest of what is good for this residential area, and was not in the interest of what is good for the future of Lake Charles. It was in the interest of some businessmen.

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