One Sevier County Funeral Home is building a crematory, but its location has nearby business owners concerned.

Atchley Funeral Home broke ground on a construction project that would add a crematory at 220 Emert Road in Pigeon Forge.

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Business owners nearby worry it will drive business away, hurting tourism in Pigeon Forge.

The man behind this crematory said its about filling a need and easing the travel burden on grieving families.

"It didn't just happen overnight, it's something we thought about a long time. The cremation rate has risen in the past few years, and we just feel the need to do the entire service," said Albert Atchley.

Atchley and his family own a funeral home in Sevier County. Right now they have to travel close to 30 miles for a cremation to be done in Blount County.

When the project began, some of the neighboring businesses questions whether the crematory was following the rules.

"According to the public notice in the newspaper, there was a 30 day waiting period. And as far as we know, they have to wait to begin any construction to the end of the 30 day period," said Sharon Winter, a manager at the Guesthouse International Inn.

Ashvin Shah owns the Guesthouse Inn, which is right next door to the proposed crematory. He said he has concerns with air pollution a crematorium could bring to the area. He also fears it will draw away important tourism dollars. His thought is that people won't want to vacation in a spot where people are openly mourning next door.

"This isn't just for me. It's for everybody who lives in this town, who does business in this town," said Shah. "Tourism is the bread and butter of all the businesses in this town. And that's how we create a revenue to run our city."

As for Atchley, he said he has his permits in with the city and awaits the state's approval.

"In most cases when a crematory is built, there will be some opposition. In every case I know of, after they open up, the opposition says it's not a problem," said Atchley.

The public comment period ends on April 13th. These business owners created a petition they will hand in.

They are shooting for more than 200 signatures. They will present this petition to the state. Shah said he would go to the federal level if he had to.

As for the project itself, Atchley said it should be done within two months.

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