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Commission recommends allowing crematories without BZA approval

By Bill Short
The Millington Municipal Planning Commission has recommended an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would allow crematories without approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Commission members took the action during their July 16 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Brenda Barber.
The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Mayor Terry Jones absent.
Preston Jefferson, owner of Jefferson’s Mortuary at 7788 Church St., is seeking to install a crematory in his business.
Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, has said neither a funeral home nor a crematory is specifically listed as a permitted use in the current Zoning Ordinance.
So, at its June 18 meeting, the commission voted to recommend that it be amended to include them.
The members also discussed three options for approving a crematory: (1) only in an Industrial district, (2) in a B-2, General Commercial, district as a special exception permitted by the BZA, and (3) anywhere a funeral home is located.
The commission initially recommended the second option, whereby it would receive an application and then submit it to the BZA, which would conduct a public hearing.
All property owners located within 500 feet would be notified and given an opportunity to support or oppose the application.
At its July 9 meeting, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed an ordinance on first reading that would allow a crematory under Option 2.
The proposed ordinance, which would amend Title 14 of the Municipal Code, is scheduled for a public hearing and final reading at the board’s Aug. 13 meeting.
But Goforth noted that there was “quite a bit of discussion” at the board meeting, with some aldermen “on either side” of the issue.
Because approval of Option 2 would not remove the BZA from the application procedure, some board members preferred Option 3. It would allow a crematory in a funeral home as a permitted use in a B-2 district with only site plan approval by the commission.
Caruthers thought the commission would have no problem recommending Option 3 at last week’s meeting. So, he had asked Goforth to have it in his “hip pocket” at the July 9 board meeting in case the discussion went that way.
“The direction that the board was going, that’s what it wants to do,” he acknowledged. “So, we voted to approve what was there [Option 2]. And we’ll change it with the public hearing at the next board meeting.”
While noting that he has asked many of the city’s residents about a crematory, Caruthers said none have told him that they think it should not be allowed.
“There’s a lot of concern about being business-friendly in Millington,” he said. “I understand that, and I totally agree with it.”
Caruthers noted that the commission recommended Option 2 last month to give residents an opportunity to have their questions answered by “experts” at a public hearing if a crematory was proposed for their neighborhood.
“But after talking to a lot of people,” he concluded, “I’ve got no problem with what we’re doing.”

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