LIVERMORE FALLS — The Planning Board unanimously voted Wednesday to approve a site review application for a pet crematory, Journey’s End, at 18 Brookside Ave.
The crematory, which has a 200-pound capacity per incineration, would be housed in a recently built garage, not attached to the house. The garage was permitted, Code Enforcement Officer James Butler Jr. said.
The board approved the project stating that there is no zoning or ordinance prohibiting it.
Abutters objected during the hearing, saying the Planning Board did not follow the town’s ordinance. They also said they planned to appeal the approval.
It is the second go-round for the proposal. In May, the board approved the application but it was appealed by abutters due to a procedural error. The Board of Appeals sent it back to the Planning Board.
Butler said the board had to consider whether the business met the criteria of a home occupation, which is exempt from site plan review, or if it was a business that needed to go through site-plan process. After re-reading the ordinance, Butler said it was halfway between a home occupation and an industry.
Attorney David Sanders, who was hired by some abutters, said the board did not follow the town’s ordinance.
“It doesn’t meet the exemption of a home occupation,“ Sanders said. “If anything, it is an industry.”
It is a processing plant, he said.
“They take a dead animal body and process it into ashes,” he said.
Sanders said Michelle Pomeroy and Matthew Perkins’ site review application is “woefully incomplete.” There is no site plan to accompany the application, he said.
The application requires that a development plan be submitted and a location map must show the relationship of the proposed development to the surrounding area, Sanders said.
“To review this now without a site plan is basically doing things backward,” he said.
Planning Board member Russell Flagg said the business owners have met the requirements of the ordinance.
“You can’t do a site-plan review without a site plan,” he said.
Flagg and Butler said the application followed past project applications and approvals.
Abutters cited potential odors, emissions and having the business about 100 feet, in some cases, away from other properties.
Butler said he checked on another crematory and was told by the code officer that there have been no complaints since it was installed in early 2000.
He was also told that the code officer did not smell any odor and didn’t see any black smoke while on a visit.
Abutter Tarek Nadeau said the crematory he was talking about was on 88 acres. The one proposed for Brookside Avenue is on about three-quarters of an acre.
Nadeau argued that if something is burned there is smoke and there is an odor.
The incinerator Pomeroy has purchased has an afterburner and is not expected to produce odor or smoke, Pomeroy said.
Planning Board member Robin Beck said the town has no zoning and there is nothing to prevent the business from opening.
“You don’t have zoning,” Sanders said, “but you do have performance standards.”
The town’s ordinance requires the board to consider whether the business would have an adverse effect on the neighborhood and the character of the neighborhood.
The board cannot approve the project unless it doesn’t have an adverse effect on the neighborhood, he said.
There is already a business on the road, The Harris House, a nursing home.
Pomeroy said she offered abutters to buy her house and she would take her business elsewhere as a solution.
She never wanted to antagonize neighbors, she said.
“I bought it so I could stay in my profession,” she said. “I feel like I am on trial and I have not done anything wrong.”