Crematorium Bill Tabled: Construction To Move Forward On Evans Funeral Chapel Facility In White Marsh


A rendering of the new Evans Funeral Chapel facility in White Marsh (Credit: Evans Funeral Chapel/ Facebook)

PERRY HALL - A Baltimore County bill to prohibit the construction of crematories within 500 feet of any residential property was tabled on Monday, signaling that construction of the Evans Funeral Chapel crematorium in White Marsh will move forward.

Bill 25-23 was introduced by Councilman David Marks after residents and community groups expressed concerns that the crematorium would emit hazardous fumes. The bill faced fierce opposition at a Baltimore County Council meeting on April 25, with council members sharing their view that the legislation would hinder business development.

"We should not do anything to discourage cremation: Maryland ranks number two in the cost of funerals nationwide," Councilman Wade Kach said at the meeting. "There are regulations already in place; I'm certain of that."

Charles Evans, the owner of Evans Funeral Chapel, described the public outrage as "hysteria" and reiterated that cremation is entirely safe and already faces stringent regulation from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Several concerned residents spoke in favor of the bill, including Charles Hillsburg, a lifelong Baltimore County resident whose newly purchased home is within 400 feet of the planned crematorium.

"From my window, I can easily see the spot where the toxic smoke would originate. I can also see the swings and park that I would hopefully enjoy with my future children," Hillsburg said. "I dread the thought of having to explain to my future children why they cannot use the playset that they can see out of their window."

Residents, including Hillsburg, cited mercury emissions as a primary concern. Mercury is used in dental silver fillings, making up roughly 50% of their composition. According to the Crematorium Association of North America, mercury boils off early in the cremation process, and only a minuscule amount is emitted into the environment.

An application to construct Evans Funeral Chapel's cremation facility in Forest Hill states that in the "worst case" scenario, the projected facility-wide emissions would equal ~0.0066 pounds of mercury per hour, well below the MDE's screening limit.

Evans, along with his supervising director of cremation operations and a representative from Matthews Environmental Solutions, the company that manufactures the cremation equipment, contended that crematorium emissions are tiny compared to fast food restaurants, diesel trucks, and other polluters.

Jennifer Wright, supervising crematorium operator at the Forest Hill location, added that the facility undergoes yearly inspections from both the MDE and the manufacturer to ensure that it is not emitting hazardous pollutants.

"No particulates in the smoke are toxic. Maryland is one of the most regulated states: I have to meet with the MDE every year to have the crematory. Wright said. "[The manufacturer] comes to inspect the equipment annually. If there were any issues with my unit, it wouldn't run."

Despite assurances from Evans Funeral Chapel, Heather Patti, president of the White Marsh Cowenton Community Association (WMCCA), expressed her displeasure with the decision to table the bill in a Facebook post on Monday.

"The nearest residence to that crematorium is almost 600 feet away, but White Marsh is expected to accept far less! 200 feet, to be exact. Mercury will be released into the air less than 200 feet from homes and businesses in White Marsh - Coming Soon!"

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Marks and Johnny O, what a pair. Thank you for destroying Baltimore county one neighborhood at a time. 
After 30 years I'm leaving voucherville. I advise others to do the same, the damage they've done is irreversible.

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