Bank building may become crematorium
The owners of Click Funeral Home want to locate a crematorium in this former bank building.

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

A former bank building in Loudon could become a crematory if Click Funeral Home is given a zoning use exception to proceed.

The United Community Bank on Highway 72 in Loudon closed its doors Feb. 1. At its 11:30 a.m. meeting Wednesday, the city of Loudon Regional Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals will hear a request by Click Funeral Home for a zoning use exception to locate a crematory on the property.

Larry Click, funeral director, said he was not looking for a crematory site, but the empty bank building was too good to bypass.

"If I were going to build a crematory, that is what I would build," Click said. "It has a kitchen which would be a nice place to gather. It has restrooms and an office space. I would put the crematory at the drive-through window. We have a lot of Hindu services, and they want to watch a cremation."

Click said while a lot of people might consider the site unsuitable, from his viewpoint it is ideal. "It butts up against an industrial park. If this was in Farragut I couldn't afford it, but this is an opportunity to give this community a nice facility. It is a nice investment."

Click said about half of the funerals today are cremations rather than burials, and the volume is increasing. Click Funeral Home and several others banded together and built a crematory in Alcoa, but the site can barely handle the volume, Click said. Taking remains there for handling requires a 40-mile drive, he said.

"We did 2,600 cremations (in Alcoa) last year, and there's no way we can handle the cremations indefinitely," he said. "We need a crematory in every county. If there was ever a pandemic, I understand that we couldn't cross county lines to reach them. Nowadays, a crematory in a facility is as much a part of the business as an embalming room. The trend is toward more cremations."

Click said some people prefer the options that cremation offers. Cremations can be less expensive and can allow family members more time to schedule memorials services or decide what to do with remains, which he called "cremains."

Linda Parton, another Click funeral director, said she agrees that a Loudon crematory is needed. "With cremation, a loved one can take home the cremains, scatter or bury them or have a monument," Parton said.

"This is not something just for today," she said. "Larry is looking into the future."

Click said less space is needed to bury the cremains. With cremated remains, one cemetery plot will hold four interments.

Russell Newman, Loudon County Planning and Codes Enforcement director, said the city of Loudon zoning ordinance does not provide a specific zone for crematories. "We would have to have an exception for it," Newman said.

The crematory will be natural gas fired, and Click said a permit will be required from the Tennessee Air Pollution Control Board. "Crematories are highly regulated," Click said.

The city Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals is a recommending body to the Loudon City Commission, which must adopt an ordinance amendment to allow a zoning use exception. A public hearing would be scheduled before that occurred.