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Ordinance allows crematories without BZA approval

By Bill Short

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading this week that allows crematories without approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Don Lowry.

Preston Jefferson, owner of Jefferson’s Mortuary at 7788 Church St., is seeking to install a crematory in his business.

Prior to the board’s action, neither a funeral home nor a crematory was specifically listed in the Zoning Ordinance as a permitted use. So, at its June 18 meeting, the Millington Municipal Planning Commission voted to recommend that it be amended to include them.

The new ordinance amends Title 14 of the Municipal Code.

It defines a funeral home as a funeral service establishment, including funeral merchandise and funeral directing.

A crematory is defined as a building, structure, room or space in a building that has been certified by the state of Tennessee for the cremation of deceased persons and is a part of a funeral home.

The crematory will be limited to one single-unit cremator designed to cremate the remains of one deceased person at a time.

At their June 18 meeting, the commission members 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 have received an application and then submitted it to the BZA, which would have conducted a public hearing.

All property owners located within 500 feet would have been 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 have allowed construction of a crematory under Option 2.

But because that would not have removed the BZA from the application procedure, some aldermen expressed a preference for Option 3.

So, at its July 16 meeting, the commission voted to recommend that the Zoning Ordinance be amended to allow crematories without BZA approval.

While noting that he has asked many of the city’s residents about a crematory, Alderman Mike Caruthers has said none have told him that they think it should not be allowed.

He said the commission initially recommended Option 2 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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