Council set to rezone Bills-McGaugh

Friday, August 5, 2011

In contrast with public outcry in Spring Hill over a similar issue, Lewisburg residents apparently haven't objected to plans for a crematory on Yell Road.

Meanwhile, a City Hall official has been provided with a page from a state law book that states "state lawmakers did not view funeral homes and crematories as separate industries."

Furthermore, "Funeral directing includes the operation of a crematory ... and this was consistent with the general assembly's definition of a funeral establishment to include both funeral homes and crematories..." according to notes to court rulings regarding professions, businesses and trades.

Such interpretations by state courts have been presented to City Codes Enforcement Officer Joe "Buck" Beard as evidence that there state takes the position that a funeral home can't be denied its operation of a crematory.

The document was also provided to the Tribune. Calls to the funeral home this week and when another city panel considered this issue, resulted in no contact when funeral directors were either with clients or at appointments.

Tuesday night, the City Council is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on an ordinance that's proposed to change the land-use zoning for Bills McGaugh Funeral Home.

"I don't think it's an issue," City Manager David Orr said this week, reflecting information supplied by Beard.

Beard has received only one phone call in response to a rezoning sign posted at the home, a legal notice published here and another recent news story mentioning what's planned. The caller simply requested information and apparently had no position for or against the rezoning. The rezoning became a matter of city officials' work after an official from the home asked what might have to be done to add the crematory.

Bills McGaugh is in a low-density residential zone, meaning the number of dwellings in that land-use classification is, at the most, modest. Homes along that part of Yell Road are not close to each other so that the population per acre is low.

As a result of the inquiry from funeral home management about what it needed to do before proceding, city planning commissioners have unanimously voted to recommend rezoning the land to a C-2 district, meaning it would be in an area deemed appropriate for an intermediate business use.

The residential zoning exists as a result of an "oversight," Planning Commission Chairman Jim Bingham explained during one of that panel's meetings when the funeral home's rezoning was discussed.

Two Nashville TV stations and other media covering Spring Hill reported on residents' fears and cremation authorities explanations.