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Discussion, concerns of crematory zoning

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FARMVILLE, N.C. - The talk of a crematory in Farmville has some community members up in arms.

The Farmville Funeral Home brought the topic to the Board of Commissioners this week.

Commissioners voted to table it until they learn more about the impact it may have in the Central Business District.

Representatives from the funeral home say they’re not planning to build a crematory right now, but they’ve reached out to commissioners about a zoning issue surrounding crematories. Still though, some folks want to stop it before it becomes a possibility.

Farmville’s Central Business district is filled with shops, businesses and homes. Yet, it’s controversial whether a crematory should be added as a permitted use.

"I don't feel like downtown Farmville should have something like this in it," said Farmville resident, William East.

East is fighting against the possibility of a crematory near their home. He says it will decrease property value and impact air quality.

"Crematoriums are known to let off mercury and they omit gases,” said East.

Even though departments of public health say those levels are very low, Commissioner Richard Hicks says he’s already heard mixed opinions.

"The biggest concern I've heard from the citizens is the closeness to residential neighborhoods and the fact that it's being proposed in the central business district,” said Hicks.

 Currently, the zoning ordinance in Farmville’s central business district allows funeral homes, yet crematories are not mentioned. Christopher Turnage of the Farmville Funeral Home wrote to commissioners in part: “… we are asking that the board clarify the definition of a funeral home. It is defined by Merriam Webster as a place where people are prepared for burial or cremation…”

"As far as the town board is concerned we won't take any other action until he finishes his forum and if he chooses to do so, at that time he can bring it back to the town board for consideration,” said Hicks.

Until that decision is made, the community is still talking.

"People need to know for themselves,” said East. “This is our home. This is what we want."

The Farmville Funeral Home declined to comment on this story but told 9 On Your Side they are planning a public forum in the next few weeks to educate the community about crematories.

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