With battles won on both sides of the contentious issue of placing a crematory in Carlsborg, proponent Jason Linde has taken the confrontation to the next legal level - Clallam County Superior Court.
Linde hopes to install a cremation chamber in a warehouse-style building in the Carlsborg industrial park. He has been given the go-ahead twice to open the crematorium and twice the decisions were appealed by neighboring business owners and a coalition of the area's residents called Citizens for Carlsborg.
The group's most recent appeal to the Clallam County commissioners resulted in a win for the coalition when the three county leaders overturned Clallam County Hearing Examiner Chris Melly's decision that the crematory should be allowed.
Linde said he was discouraged by the decision and the fact the county's code identifies no place where he could conduct cremations but added that he had a strong belief that by appealing the commissioners' decision in a higher court, he would come out on top a third time.
"Based on the commissioners' ruling, which I believe came from the influence of a small special interest group and information not in the record before them, I feel we will have a strong case in superior court," he said.
The commissioners overturned Melly's decision stating the land use would cause objectionable characteristics and could cause pollution in Carlsborg, which not only contains an industrial park but several restaurants, a child care center and other businesses and residences.
"I provided testimony and evidence contrary to those findings and I believe when this decision is back in front of a body that must follow established laws and guidelines, like the hearing examiner did, a decision will be made in our favor," he said.
Dayhawk Kim, spokesman for Citizens for Carlsborg, said the group is standing behind the commissioners' decision and will continue to fight against the installation of the crematorium.
"There is no doubt in our minds that this will have adverse impacts to businesses and the people in this area through pollution and stigma," Kim said, indicating amalgam fillings can contain mercury that would become airborne once vaporized.
"Plus, we've found the superior court is often making similar decisions as county commissioners so we are very confident of continued success in this case."
Linde denies his operation will have an adverse odor or ash output.
He currently utilizes the building at 108 Business Park Loop for cold storage of bodies before transporting them to the Seattle area for cremation.
As for the cremation unit he purchased to use in Carlsborg, he's moved it to Marysville where he plans to turn it on Jan. 5.
"In this case, Snohomish County had an established way to set up this business, a zone where it should go and a straightforward process to get a clean air permit," he said. "There is none of this here. I'm the one creating this process here and the families I serve are the ones that have to see their loved ones transported across the sound and back."
Linde provides low-priced cremations and burials on behalf of the People's Memorial Association of Seattle, which has 11,000 members in the county.
"It isn't the case we are against this business or this association, we simply believe this is the wrong location for a crematorium," Kim said.
No date has been set for a hearing on the Land Use Petition Act appeal Linde filed in December. On May 5, it will have been one year since Melly first approved Linde's conditional use permit.
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