Austerlitz ponders zoning for pet crematory

AUSTERLITZ–Susan Bandy is opening an expanded non-profit dog rescue and care kennel, while adding a commercial small-animal crematorium at her 80-acre home and farm.

The Austerlitz Planning Board extended public comment at its June 7 meeting while members struggled to make it possible for the project to move forward as expeditiously as possible. The net result was the temporary withdrawal of the crematorium proposal so it could be referred to the Austerlitz Zoning Board of Appeals. The referral is required for a new commercial use, according to ZBA Chairman Karl Gabosh.

Engineer Patrick Prendergast and Ms. Bandy presented the project using engineering drawings and describing the nature of both the dog care kennel and crematorium. The proposed crematorium is designed to look like a small New England style cottage with a flower garden.

Ms. Bandy has a home-based business and has been certified to operate a pet crematorium. The proposed crematorium is a state-of-the-art, two-chamber system, designed to emit no smell and no smoke. Matthews, the manufacturer, reports it has 4,000 units on three continents.

Karen Walker has operated a pet crematorium, Buddy’s Place, in Hudson for many years, wants to retire soon, and is hoping to sell her crematorium equipment to Ms. Bandy. At the meeting Ms. Walker described her operation and experiences, as well as specifics on the crematorium and freezer. She said she has had no complaints from neighbors in Hudson and has cremated pets brought from New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, and as far away as California. She provides free services to veterans, police officers and pet fire victims.

Mr. Gabosh participated in the public comment period, offering insights on the need for the ZBA to review the proposal. He said he would schedule a meeting of the ZBA, Thursday, June 14.

Lee Tilden, a Planning Board member, read a letter from neighbors Louis and Mary Wambach, who expressed concerns, such as smoke, smell, health impact, and traffic.

Shawn Hancock, a neighbor, was present to support the project along with other members of the public in attendance. She welcomed the proposed project, noting, “We are lucky to have a young woman like Susan adding to her home based business, which is in keeping with the town desires for new business. The project will have minimal impact on traffic and is in keeping with the bucolic nature of the town.”

Ms. Bandy withdrew the crematorium application for its referral to the ZBA for consideration.

The Planning Board passed a resolution that will allow the board to act on the kennel proposal at its next meeting. Additional information anticipated for the kennel application are the number of dogs, staffing and capacity.

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