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Crematory plan causes uproar in Mt. Juliet
Jun 05, 2006 12:00 am
May 31, 2006 – Neighbors of a long-established Mt. Juliet funeral home are openly protesting a move in city government that would allow Bond Memorial Chapel to build a crematory.
Over 150 residents who live in Clearview subdivision have signed a petition against a proposed zoning change that would allow crematory to be built at the funeral home located near their neighborhood off North Mt. Juliet Road.
One June 8, Andy and Tracey Bond, who have operated the funeral home since it was established in 1995, will go before the city Board of Zoning Appeals for an administrative decision on whether or not they can build the crematory on their premises.
Residents said they are concerned the presence of a crematory near their homes may lower property values and also cite "psychological" reasons for their opposition.
"We don't think this type of thing should be allowed right near a neighborhood," 28-year resident Gary Clark said. "Our property is adjacent to their property, and I'm afraid it will lower my property value. I just don't want them doing that in my back yard."
However, Bond Memorial Chapel owners said the crematory is the result of community demand for cremation services and its presence would not hurt the quality of life in the area. The Bonds also live in the Clearview subdivision.
"We would never propose anything that would serve to adversely affect our own quality of living, much less the neighboring property values," Tracey Bond said. "We have documentation to support that there is a growing demand for cremation in our area. We feel that the offering of cremation on our premises would be just an extension of the services we already provide for the families of this community."
She noted they are very proud of their current facility and "any additions added would definitely be of the same high standards."
According to City of Mt. Juliet Zoning Administrator Deborah Moss, the request brings up several complicated details regarding whether adding a crematory is a permitted use in the area.
"It needs to be a board decision because of its complexity and because there is a lot of neighbor involvement," Moss said. "BOZA will decide on administrative appeal whether a crematory is an allowable use with a funeral home."
Moss said decisions on such matters are partly based on the Federal Standard Classification Manual which lists crematories as a permitted use with a funeral home. In 1995, a crematory was an allowable use in the city, but in 1998 funeral homes were left out the new ordinance and became "non conforming," according to Moss.
"This means they (BOZA) now have to decide which way to zone," Moss stated.
The Bonds held two public meetings to talk about the issue. District 3 City Commissioner Ed Hagerty represents the area and attended. He said he quickly learned his constituents opposed the crematory.
"I wanted to see if there could be a meeting of the minds," Hagerty said. "But I can't support the move because the people in my district are against it. Some people just don't want a crematory in their back yard."
Bond said about 22.5 percent of the funeral home's business this quarter has been from cremations. Currently the Bonds provide this service off premises, but noted they have obtained information from a company who manufactures cremation equipment and has been involved in the industry for over 52 years.
"They state their equipment operates without smoke or odor," she said. "The equipment emission levels are less than half the allowable standards to ensure environmental quality. Residents of the area will not be aware that the equipment is operating."
Naomi Finley's home backs up to the funeral home. She's lived there nearly 30 years. The proposed crematory would be housed in a building about 40 yards away.
"I have nothing against the Bonds at all," Finley said. "I just don't want a crematory there. It would back up to a residential area in the heart of the city. The idea of it just gets to me. Crematories are for other places."
Finley said she raised her family there but will put her house on the market if the crematory is built.
BOZA will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 8 at City Hall.
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by e-mail at email@example.com.