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November 1, 2013

Amigone in court next week

Crematory allegedly violated environmental laws, state says

Tonawanda News — Motions that were to be argued this week in the state’s pending case against Amigone Funeral Home have been postponed until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Erie County Court.

The appearance in front of Erie County Court Judge Henry Nowak is the first step in the state attorney general’s case against the company, located on Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda.

The suit, which cites alleged violations of specific environmental laws for the first time, was announced in early October after more than 20 years of residents’ complaints concerning odors, soot and noise from the company’s crematory at the site. 

The suit seeks to permanently prevent Amigone from reopening the crematory, and also seeks monetary penalties against the company for repeated violations of pollution regulations.

Amigone violated air quality limits, crematory ash was found on a nearby residential property and noise caused a nuisance for nearby property owners, the suit alleges

Documents submitted by the attorney general thus far include a memorandum of law, which details alleged crimes the company committed — including the violation of state opacity and nuisance laws. The memorandum also cites a letter sent to residents Aug. 23 that indicated the company was planning on reopening the crematory.

Exhibits include photographs of black smoke coming from the crematory, located adjacent to a residential neighborhood. The attorney general’s office has also submitted affidavits from town board members and residents in the area.

Those who live nearby the property said that soot has covered their windowsills and outdoor furniture for decades. The smell from the operation has also prevented them from enjoying their backyards or opening their windows, they said. 

Amigone’s defense attorney Robert Knoer has not returned calls to comment on the case.

The crematory has been closed since July 2012, when the owners signed an agreement with the attorney general’s office to halt operations for six months. At the time the agreement was signed, Schneiderman said he reserved the right to file a suit if Amigone resumed the crematory’s use without hiring an expert to correct the problems. 

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