By Deb Gau
MARSHALL - A request to build a crematorium on property owned by a local cemetery drew a lot of concern from the cemetery's neighbors Tuesday night. The Marshall City Council faced a near-full gallery as it discussed a conditional use permit request from funeral director Quinn Horvath.
Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said the Marshall Planning Commission "had some considerable discussion" earlier this month before recommending the city grant a conditional use permit for a crematorium at Calvary Cemetery. Calvary Cemetery is a Catholic cemetery located along East Main Street, near the intersection with Minnesota Highway 23. It is bordered on the north by residential properties and the edge of Independence Park.
In a memo to the city council, Horvath said the crematorium proposal had the support of the Calvary Cemetery Board and the finance council of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. The crematorium building would be located toward the east end of the cemetery property, away from both roads and neighboring residences. The cemetery would own the crematorium building, while the cremation providers would rent the space and own their own equipment.
Olson said there is already one crematorium in Marshall, located at the Marshall Cemetery.
"Why would we need a second one?" said council member Ellayne Conyers.
Olson and Horvath replied that it was a business decision by Almlie-Horvath Funeral and Cremation Services.
"Cremation is increasing in demand among the public," Horvath said. Horvath and Olson said the crematorium could also serve as a source of income for Calvary Cemetery's upkeep.
Earlier this year, Horvath had applied for a conditional use permit from Lyon County for a crematorium in Green Valley. However, after getting feedback from residents there, Horvath withdrew the permit request. Building the crematorium near a cemetery would be more appropriate, Horvath said.
However, Marshall residents neighboring Calvary Cemetery said they had their own concerns about building a second crematorium in Marshall. Speaking out at the council meeting, they said if the facility had to be built in Calvary Cemetery, it should be placed as far to the east on the property as possible, out of sight of homes. Residents also shared concerns about living near the gas line that would be needed to fuel the crematorium.
Doug Hamilton addressed the council with printouts of information on the Almlie-Horvath Funeral website referring to a crematorium in Marshall. He asked if it referred to the requested location, or a third crematorium location.
"We have no evidence that it exists," Hamilton said.
Horvath said he wasn't aware of inaccurate information on the website but offered to change it if it was wrong.
As of Tuesday night following the council meeting, the Almlie-Horvath Funeral and Cremation Services website said its cremation service, Affordable Cremation of Southwest Minnesota, is "in the process of securing a location in Marshall."
Based on the community's questions about the crematorium proposal, council member Mike Boedigheimer proposed that it be tabled until the council could schedule a public hearing on the matter.
"I don't think we're ready to make a decision," Boedigheimer said.
The motion passed, with council member Larry Doom abstaining from the vote. A public hearing on the crematorium proposal will be held at the council's July 22 meeting.
In the meantime, council member John DeCramer suggested that Horvath meet with people in the neighborhood around the cemetery, to answer questions about the proposal.