Funeral Home Proposal Dies in Erlanger Amid Residents' Opposition
Erlanger residents showed up at Tuesday's city council meeting to oppose a planned funeral home from operating.
Council was to consider a resolution that would allow the city's economic development director apply for a text amendment to allow funeral homes to operate as a conditional use in the residential zone designated as R-1C. Conditional uses typically require the approval of the board of adjustments in order to operate.
Middendorf-Bullock Funeral Home was considering an operation at 3830 Narrows Road, a building that previously housed a New Beginnings church. It is currently on the market, listed at $650,000.
Several residents from the Brightleaf subdivision off Turkeyfoot Road voiced their opposition to the consideration. Seeing the opposition, City Attorney Jack Gatlin spoke out in his report.
"This is not a public hearing," Gatlin said. "It is stage one of a multi-step process."
Nonetheless, when it came time to have public comments, the neighbors were determined to have council hear them loud and clear. Francois LeRoy spoke about his opposition, citing traffic, overall obstruction, and property values.
Jennifer McVay urged council to vote no on the resolution, as did several others. Chris Penn said he has been on both sides of the issue, but he stated that this issue shouldn't go any further than this evening.
"I think it should stop now, personally," agreed Chester Carpenter. Joseph Engels asked Gatlin if any neighborhood could have a funeral home move in if they changed the zoning text, and was told yes, if the funeral home applied for the conditional use and it was granted.
Mayor Tyson Hermes added that the church which had operated on the property previously was also a conditional use, and each one had to be approved separately.
John Tangney complimented the government on cutting costs, but argued that the issue was more than just a funeral home. If the funeral home were granted the conditional use, it could go on to install a crematorium on the site as well, Tangney argued, and he stated that he did not want to be living with prevailing winds coming from the crematorium.
Charles Saddler said as a resident he wants stability and predictability, and intimated that the effects of a funeral home would go well beyond general disturbances. Tina Sansone was very concerned about the safety of the walkers in the area, and Tom Jones spoke up and said, "Common sense should tell you to leave our property values alone!"
Linda Krivsky summed up her position like this: "We support this city. We elected you, and you are supposed to have our best interests at heart, and you don't!"
As a result, when the resolution came up to be voted on, not one member of council would make a motion on the issue.
"Resolution dies for lack of motion," said Mayor Hermes, and applause ensued.
The subject of the railroad bridge across Dixie Highway was brought up under old business by Councilwoman Renee Skidmore, who said instead of spending almost $300,000 to paint the bridge, there was a similar bridge, in Fairfield, Ohio, she thought, that was given a facade that only cost in the neighborhood of $75,000. City Engineer Jim Viox said it was a good idea, and that the city should definitely look into it. Mayor Hermes confirmed that the railroad company won't paint the bridge.
"There is a lot of finger-pointing, and nobody is taking responsibility," said Hermes. "They have a federal mandate to take care of the bridge, but are federally protected not to have to uphold esthetics. If they would paint our bridge they would have to paint others."
The subject raised several comments from council about spending money on property that does not belong to the city. Councilwoman Patty Suedkamp suggested that the city could lose the depot park over the controversy.
"It is what it is," stated Suedkamp.
"It doesn't have to be," countered the mayor.
"You can't fix stupid," Suedkamp came back.
"Should we return the money we had for the project?," Hermes wanted to know. When council said it could be spent on other projects, the mayor told Suedkamp he was waiting for a prioritized list of other projects that he had asked her for.
"I shouldn't have to provide a list," she said. "It is so blatantly common sense."
Councilman Randy Blankenship asked Mayor Hermes what had changed from his campaign promise of not spending anything on the bridge to now wanting to spend money on it. Hermes started to answer, saying nothing has changed, and he didn't want to spend taxpayer dollars on it, when Councilman Gary Meyer interrupted saying the matter needed to be discussed at the committee meeting on August 16, and the rest of council agreed to table it.
- A first reading of an ordinance took place, that would allow Drees to build a subdivision on 12 acres on Turkeyfoot Road.
- A municipal order was passed that declared a utility trailer surplus property, and another authorized the mayor to spend the initial lease payment of $7,500 per year for the railroad depot park along with any contractual increases for the five-year lease term.
- A resolution was passed to ask for a zoning map amendment to change the properties located at 645 Erlanger Road, and 1-A Houston road from residential to Highway Commercial.
- City Engineer Jim Viox said the city received three bids for the concrete project on Enterprise Drive and Commerce Court. He recommended JPS Construction who came in with a bid of $334,620.50 and council agreed to accept it. Then he told council that the resurfacing work on Bartlett, Graves, and Cowie avenues, around the school, also had three bids, and he recommended Paul Michels and sons with a low bid of $300,426.50. Council agreed.
- Mark Gustafelder, who lives at 616 Hallam, came to council to ask what can be done about cars racing through the neighborhood while children ride their bikes. He begged the mayor and council to find something else to do, saying he had worked with the city to get stop signs put in, but the cars are ignoring the stop signs and running through them. Mayor Hermes said police would be taking steps to correct the situation.
- Erlanger-Eslmere Schools superintendent Kathy Burkhardt came to council to show them the new programs that are being offered in the district, and said the district is offering educational programs for single mothers. She also said the district had one of the greatest increases in Kindergarten readiness, up from 37 percent last year to 45 percent this year. She told council that the state had a 50 percent readiness rate.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo via Kenton Co. PVA