Loudon panel delays vote on proposed crematorium ... again

By Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
The Loudon Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday decided to once again postpone a vote on whether an exception should be granted to build a crematorium.

In a separate action, the Loudon Planning Commission voted unanimously to form a committee to draft a proposal for an ordinance regulating the location of funeral homes in the city. There currently is no such regulation.

The committee will be using a similar ordinance under consideration in Knoxville as a guide. Key issues include the definition of a funeral home, proximity to residential areas and the percentage of contract cremations not associated with funeral services.

County Planning Director Russ Newman told the board he had identified several key concerns regarding the proposed crematorium that would be located in the old United Community Bank building at state Highway 72 and Maremont Parkway.

Besides a general “negative perception” in the community regarding the idea of a crematorium, Newman pointed to concerns of odor or pollution from the site and vaporized mercury from tooth fillings. Mercury has been associated with damage to the brain, lungs and kidneys, especially for young children and pregnant women.

Dr. Bud Guider, a member of the Loudon County Air Quality Task Force, told the board his organization has some concerns about the hazardous emissions and would like to study the issue before making any recommendations.

Larry Click, owner of Click Funeral Home, said he believes emissions will be low. There are several sources of mercury emissions among companies already in Loudon County, he said.

James Hughes, who lives within 700 feet of the proposed crematory site, said he was absolutely opposed to any cremation at the location.

“I’ve lived here for 60 years. We have cookouts in the backyard. Would you like to look over there to that smokestack and say ‘Well, son, there goes another one.’ ”

Board member Ken Brewster made a motion to table any decision on the exemption for 90 days until after the Air Quality Task Force can report to the board. The motion passed unanimously.

Click made several references to a letter he received in March from Newman. He said he purchased the bank building because he thought the letter authorized him to locate a funeral home at the site. With a single cremation machine running on site, the facility would still fit the state definition of a funeral home, Click said.