The board did not, however, make a recommendation for the rezoning of land which is the subject of the CUP request.
Planning board member Henry Ford said after the meeting this evening he was more concerned about having certain restrictions in the CUP than “a blanket rezoning.”
Board member Sherry Mills said she wanted to see a plan in which traffic entering the proposed expansion area would feed directly off Smith Church Road. She also had concerns about traffic impacting the businesses which are located in the area proposed for the expansion instead of going through Anna Louise Lane.
In its motion on the CUP, which passed on a 4-1 vote, the planning board sent a recommendation for approval provided there be a vegetative buffer and opaque fencing to separate the proposed site from residences in the Southgate community which backup to the location. The board also recommended a condition which would minimize traffic. Chairman Greg Browning voted against the recommendation.
City council will consider the matter at its July 10 meeting at Lloyd Andrews City Meeting Hall on Jackson Street. Meeting time is 5:15 p.m.
The matter came before the planning board as Crestview owner Sandy Showalter is trying expand the perpetual care cemetery off Smith Church Road.
An effort to expand the cemetery in 2015, which received approval from city council then, ended up failing because the intended land was wetlands and would cost more than $120,000 per acre to mitigate, she said.
The rezoning request for this evening’s meeting was to rezone some 8 acres of land on the west side of Anna Louise Lane from B-3 commercial to R-40 residential. Five lots encompass the 8 acres, which are part of the Chockoyotte Professional Park.
Jenger Adams, a realtor, said the lots eyed for the Crestview expansion have been on the market for 2,198 days. “They’ve never had any offers on all five lots. It would be a great use of the property. It’s an overgrown, wooded area.”
For Showalter, the property makes sense. “We have maybe five years of property left.”
With the previous wetlands issue, she said, “Every time we move forward we take two steps back.”
Then the 8 acres across the street from Crestview became open. “We want to take the five properties and turn them into one … We’re good neighbors. We want to continue to be good neighbors. This is not going to happen tomorrow. The land has to be cleared and landscaped.”
Unlike the city-owned Cedarwood Cemetery, Crestview has flat markers and no headstones. “You see flowers. You see life. If we don’t expand that gives us five years,” she said.
Several Southgate residents spoke against the proposal.
“A cemetery is sacred to me,” said Agnes Moody.
Moody said if it is approved she wouldn’t want to see children walking on graves.
Jacqueline Louis said, “I’m opposed to a cemetery in our backyard. It’s not something we want to look at in our backyard.”
Dr. Raj Bhagwandass, whose dental practice is in the professional park, said he was concerned about traffic. “I’m concerned for my patients. If they come by and there’s a funeral, I think it would be upsetting.”
Mills said traffic patterns need to be carefully addressed.
Adams said Showalter is providing a second entrance. “You would have far more traffic if you had five commercial buildings. I think it’s a great fit.”
Showalter said following the meeting she would be willing to address concerns of the residents and planning board members. “We’re trying to make sure everything is done in correct order. People need a decent place to be buried.”