MT HOLLY, N.C. — Those who live near Smith Road in Mt. Holly are concerned about a possible new neighbor coming to the area in the form of a funeral home and crematory business. The proposed site for the plan is where Day Star Baptist Church currently stands.
The property owner, Amy Crocker, purchased the building earlier this year and says it's been her dream to turn her childhood church into something new.
“I just want it to be a small country funeral home," Crocker said. "I don’t have to do a lot of business. It’s tough when you have your folks dying off.”
Crocker recently submitted a conditional zoning application to Gaston County in order to continue the process of potentially making the funeral home a reality.
But her dream has been met with some pushback from concerned neighbors.
“I don’t know why this is even being considered in a residential area," resident Mike Cretella said. “I can’t see one thing it does positive for our community.”
One of the concerns from those who live nearby is the potential impact of decreasing property values, on top of possible negative environmental effects.
“That’s a lot of grams of mercury that are blown out of the stack when they cremate someone and that vapor gets deposited into the trees, washes away with the rain, gets into the ground water," Cretella said.
According to Crocker, all commercial crematories are required to have equipment that filters any dangerous pollutants. Crocker said she's also taking steps to separate her embalming tank and septic tank within the building as well to help reassure neighbors.
“They might not necessarily love the idea, but they’ve met me and they know that I’m going to do a good job and take care of them and not do anything to harm the environment," Crocker said.
This week she's hosting a series of community meetings to allow residents to ask questions and express their concerns.
“I don’t know many people who want to sit in their back yard, barbecue, mow the grass and then catch a whiff of someone being burned," Cretella said.
Another community meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 1, from 5-7 p.m. at Day Star Baptist Church in Mt. Holly. From there the next step is for the plan to go to the Gaston County Planning Board for consideration.