Thomaston citizen appeals Planning Board conditional use approval of crematorium project

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 2:30pm

    THOMASTON — In June, the Thomaston Planning Board voted to approve plans to build a privately-owned crematorium on a parcel of land lying within the Village Cemetery, owned by the town.

    In July, Thomaston resident Nancy Wood appealed that approval, saying in her appeal that the crematorium, “is not appropriate for our neighborhood.”

    Midcoast Crematory, Inc., as operated by Michael Hall, had received a conditional use permit for 32 Annabelle Lane, in Thomaston, in an urban-residential zone, June 16.

    The Town of Thomaston, however, must still vote on the matter of leasing the lot of land to Midcoast Crematory, Inc. That vote is scheduled for Thomaston’s Annual Town Meeting, Sept. 15, via secret ballot at the polls (because of the pandemic, Thomaston’s town meeting, like others in Maine, are being held this year solely at the polls, instead of an in-person town meeting).

    Article 3 on the town’s warrant asked voters whether they want to authorize the select board to enter a long-term land lease on the land, specifically for a crematorium.

    The parcel is 100 feet by 100 feet.

    The appeal of the June 16 Planning Board conditional use for lease of the property, as filed with the Thomaston Planning Office, cites air pollution and odor nuisance and control as prime concerns. She cited the potential generation of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as reasons for opposing the venture.

    “There is substantial evidence, as document, that crematoriums in neighborhoods can have a detrimental effect on the health and well-being of those who live in the surrounding area,” said Wood. “When a corpse is cremated, mercury, dioxins, furans, methylene chloride and other toxic gases can be emitted depending on the composition of the corpse regarding amalgam fillings, breast implants, metal or plastic surgical implants, etc.”

    Wood said the equipment to be used in the crematorium is not infallible. She cited in her appeal a 2017 petition that included 160 signatures of those against crematorium construction.

    “Cremating one corpse requires two to three hours and up to 2,000 degrees of heat that is released into the atmosphere,” the appeal said. “The more cremations in a day the heat continues – more than enough energy to release 573 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, environmental analysts have calculated.”

    Wood said in the appeal that she was providing an alternative solution, using the city of Gardiner as a model for how it sited a crematorium on city property.

    “The residents of this Thomaston neighborhood suggest using this precedent as a means for Midcoast Crematory to build their crematorium away from our residential neighborhood,” she wrote.

    The Thomaston Zoning Board of Appeals has yet to schedule its next meeting to consider the Wood appeal.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657