Longmont, CO

We are located in the Historic Westside neighborhood of Longmont, CO. I am part of a group that is fighting a local funeral home, as they are asking for a variance for an existing regulation, to build a crematory in their garage. They want a variance on the 500’ residential protection standard for funeral homes w/crematoriums. They want to build a crematorium in their garage, and it’s within 500′ of neighbors. We need some help and direction, as we get ready to fight this variance, at the Planning and Zoning Hearing. We have not heard yet when the hearing will be. Can we get some response, so that we may be better prepared for this opposition? Thank you for your help.

I live in Longmont Colorado, in an historic section of the city. We have mixed use zoning and we have a few funeral homes. About 8 years ago, we fought an established funeral home, when they wanted to build a new building near their current one, and they wanted to add a crematorium. We currently have a 500′ residential protection standard for funeral homes with crematoriums. They were grandfathered in at that time. However, they finally backed out, as I think public animosity affected their business.

We now have another funeral home that wants to put a crematorium in their garage, and have applied for a variance. It is within 20′ of the nearest residential homes, and they are on a corner of a residential street. They claim they need to be competitive and that they are getting the super-duper, most environmentally friendly, least impacting model. They own a cemetery about 5-7 miles north. They have said that the cost of building a structure is too high for them to build it there.

They have held a neighborhood meeting. The next step is the planning and zoning meeting. Then, if it continues, it will go to city council.

I am surprised that some people are ambiguous. We have a group that is wanting to fight this. We can use some help. Would you get back to me and let me know what you can recommend?

Thanks a lot for your time.

Carroll proposes adding crematory to Longmont facility
Some residents in Old Town Longmont oppose the idea
By Tony Kindelspire Longmont Times-Call
POSTED: 08/31/2013

http://www.timescall.com/longmont-local-news/ci_23990797/carroll-proposes-adding-crematory-longmont-facility

LONGMONT — Some of the residents of downtown Longmont are upset with plans by Heath Carroll to install a crematory inside Carroll-Lewellen Funeral and Cremation Services, the business he has owned since 2007.

Carroll needs a variance from the city because of the city’s 500-foot residential protection standards, which prohibit certain business practices within 500 feet of a home.

Carroll appeared before the Longmont Downtown Development Authority board of directors this past week seeking an endorsement from that body for his plan.

He said that when he bought Lewellen Funeral Home, at the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Terry Street, it was doing about 35 funerals a year. This year, he expects to do 275 to 300, and much of that growth has come from the cremation end of the business. He estimates about 60 percent of the funerals he does this year will be cremations.

He’s been paying to have cremations done for his clients in Loveland, he said. He had also been having them done at Howe Mortuary until it was destroyed in a fire in May.

Carroll-Lewellen has been in operation at 503 Terry Street since 1922, and it has never had a crematory on-site.

Carroll said that with the business growing as fast as it has been, not having a crematory is not only inefficient, but it’s also costing him money in the long run. That’s why he wants to invest about $120,000 in a state-of-the-art machine that he says has a 99.9 percent rating from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We could purchase a crematory right now in the $7,000 to $10,000 range, but it would be a ’90s model,” Carroll told the LDDA board.

City planner Ben Ortiz told the board of directors that his office had received an overwhelmingly negative response to the plans from nearby residents who were notified as part of the public process. But Carroll said that at a public meeting he hosted several weeks ago, he was able to win over a lot of his neighbors who were originally opposed to the idea.

“A lot of the neighbors that are complaining are not within the 500-foot protection,” Carroll said. He added that at the time he bought the funeral home, he bought the Lewellen house, which is only about 50 feet from the proposed crematory. He’s not concerned about his property values falling, he said.

One neighbor who attended the meeting hosted by Carroll still opposes the plan. Doug Hines lives at 816 Fifth Ave., three doors to the west of Carroll’s funeral home.

His concerns mirror those of others who have expressed opposition, he said: health risks, a decrease in property values and environmental concerns.

“I think there’s a reason the City Council initiated a residential protection standard,” Hines said Friday.

That ordinance came into existence after a similar dispute in 2005 involving Ahlberg Funeral Chapel and Crematory. In 2005, the funeral home and the Times-Call were considering a land swap that would have had Ahlberg building a new facility, included a crematory, on the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Terry Street. Under the arrangement the Times-Call would have expanded its facilities to the south, where Ahlberg is now. That plan ran into steep opposition from neighbors next to where the new Ahlberg facility would have been and was withdrawn.

Carroll referred to opponents of his plan as a “small group of people” and told the LDDA that “it’s important to realize that we have a lot of support.”

A majority of the LDDA board voted to remain neutral on the topic, just as it had done with the proposed Ahlberg move several years ago.

Next up for Carroll will be a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Sept. 25. City Councilman Alex Sammoury, who also sits on the LDDA board, said that even if the commission approves the variance, those opposed to it will still be able to make an appeal to the Longmont City Council.

“I want to remain in Longmont,” Carroll told the LDDA. “If I don’t get this crematory it’s going to be hard to remain in Longmont. I need a community that’s friendly to do business in.”

Controversy surrounding crematoriums near neighborhoods is nothing new
By Tony Kindelspire Longmont Times-Call
POSTED: 08/31/2013

http://www.timescall.com/longmont-local-news/ci_23990833/controversy-surrounding-crematoriums-near-neighborhoods-is-nothing-new

LONGMONT — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is the state agency responsible for regulating crematoriums, and it treats them just as it would any other source of emissions, whether that’s a city bus or a dry cleaners.

“In this instance, what we would be permitting would be the furnace, or the incinerator that is used,” said Christopher Dann, a spokesman for the department’s air pollution control division, referring to the crematorium that Heath Carroll is proposing to install at Carroll-Lewellen Funeral & Cremation Services.

Carroll needs a variance from the city to install the crematorium because he’s next to a residential neighborhood and his funeral home has never had one before. Over its 90-plus year history, cremation services have always been outsourced. Today, 51 percent of Carroll-Lewellen’s business is cremations.

Dann said his department often fields calls from people who have concerns regarding crematoriums. Funeral homes are commonly located within neighborhoods, he said, and just the purpose of a crematorium can make people nervous.

But to his department, crematoriums are looked at no differently from anything else that is going to emit emissions.

“We don’t make value judgments about what’s being proposed,” he said.

The crematorium Carroll is proposing putting in is the Power-Pak II Plus model made by Matthews International. The company’s cremation division is based in Florida and Steve Talley, senior sales consultant, said his company’s machines are much more technologically advanced than they used to be in terms of how they operate and what they emit into the atmosphere.

He said the Power-Pak II is a multi-chamber device, and the chambers have been made bigger over time, cutting back on the amount of emissions.

The human body, Talley explained, is made up of 80 percent water; the remainder is divided between combustible and non-combustible materials. During the cremation process, a body is put into the cremation unit’s primary chamber, inside a coffin or a cremation container, where open flame creates intense heat and vaporizes most of the body. Underneath the primary chamber is a secondary chamber, which contains both a “hot pass” compartment and a “cold pass” compartment.

What the general public usually refers to as a person’s ashes isn’t, in fact, ash at all, Talley said.

“The 5 percent that is left is what’s called cremated remains, and those are (white) calcified bone fragments,” he said, adding that material remains in the primary chamber after initial burning.

Any other products of combustion pass into the secondary chamber below, Talley said.

“The purpose of the secondary chamber burner is to reburn, or cleanse, the products of combustion from the primary chamber,” he said.

After being reburned in the hot pass portion of the chamber, what’s left passes through the cold pass side before entering the stack and being discharged into the atmosphere. The cold-pass compartment is where any remaining large particles will remain, he said, adding that “large,” in this context, still means microscopic.

“Some of it will pass into the atmosphere, but it’s not anything that people will see,” Talley said. “There’s nothing visible. And there’s no odor — that’s consumed in the secondary chamber.”

He said that his company monitors all of its units remotely any time they are used. A light sensor beam at the base of the stack monitors emissions constantly, and if anything interferes with that beam the entire process is slowed down immediately to allow more thorough burning. This remote monitoring of emissions, he said, is something that sets his company apart from other manufacturers.

Why would Longmont need a new crematory? Perhaps they should also consider this: Crematories are a FIRE HAZARD!

Fire destroys Howe Mortuary and Crematorium in Longmont early Tuesday morning

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/fire-breaks-out-at-longmont-mortuary-and-crematorium-early-tuesday-morning

LONGMONT, Colo. – A fire destroyed the Howe Mortuary and Cremation Services in Longmont early Tuesday morning.

The fire at 439 Coffman Street started around 1:22 a.m.

Police told 7NEWS that when the Longmont fire department arrived at the scene, the fire was on the roof of the building. The blaze started in the northwest corner of the building and was quickly engulfed, police said.

Five fire engines from the Longmont fire department and a ladder truck from Firestone came to battle the blaze. The building is being called a total loss.

The roof of the building collapsed around 4 a.m.

“These are extremely difficult fires, especially when chemicals (are) involved,” said Jeff Satur with Longmont Police.”

No one was working in the building at the time, but police said six bodies were in the mortuary when the fire started. Five were awaiting funerals.

One of the bodies that was in a casket was removed. Firefighters were able to pull out the sixth body because there had been a visitation for that person the night before, and the body was located in a different part of the building than the others.

Geoffrey Howe, who owns the mortuary, told 7NEWS his great-grandfather started the business in 1898. Howe himself started working there part time when he was 7 or 8 years old, then began working full time in 1980 and took over the business six years later.

“It’s a great sense of loss and grief right now, but we’ve had a lot of good things happen to our families first and foremost, and we’re not really worried about the brick and mortar at this point,” Howe said.

Howe said he stood by and watched the fire department work Tuesday morning.

“The fire department did an excellent job,” Howe said. “I know they’re disappointed in not saving the building, but their efforts have gone to a great deal of reward as it provided for loved ones and family members that we’re currently serving.”

Howe also said the community has been supportive.

“We so appreciate love and care and concern shown us,” Howe told 7NEWS. “We feel horrible about circumstances, and I certainly feel some part of responsibility, although I’m not sure where that attachment comes from, but they’ve tried to cooperate and help.”

Howe said they plan to rebuild the mortuary.

“I love this community,” Howe said. “That’s why I returned here after school, and I expect to be able to rebuild here, and we will make best of very difficult situation.”

Geoffrey Howe posted a message on the mortuary’s website early Tuesday pledging to care for the families of the people whose remains were lost in the fire.

“We are deeply saddened about the fire to our mortuary, most importantly the impact it has on the families we serve and their loved ones in their time of grief,” Howe wrote. “First and foremost, our priority remains as it has always been in caring for these families and assuring their needs are cared for.”

–Neighbors describe the fire–

Niki Noon lives behind the mortuary. She saw the fire when it started and called 911.

“It was really loud and booming,” Noon told 7NEWS. “I could see sort of reflections out my bedroom window of something like fireworks, so I got up, looked out the window and immediately saw sparks flying from the pole and the edges of the back corner of building on fire.”

Noon estimates it was about 10 minutes from the start of the fire to the time it was engulfed in flames.

“It escalated really, really quickly and was burning really hot,” Noon said. “The fire looked like it was coming down the roof… and on the edges, and it had just caught the wires and electric pole on fire.”

Noon said she thinks a nearby gas line fueled the flames and increased the damage, making it difficult for firefighters to contain the blaze.

“Every time they would try to contain it, it would just flame up,” Noon told 7NEWS. “They were working on it probably a good three hours to get it out.”

Arnold Turner, who said he has known the Howe family for at least 50 years, owns Turner Realty, which is located next to the mortuary.

“Poor Geoff,” Turner said, referring to Howe. “They’ve laid to rest my mom, my dad. I’ve sung at hundreds of funerals over there. It’s a big loss.”

Turner said he believes the people of Longmont will be willing to help Howe after the fire.

“This is a pretty small town at the end of the day,” Turner said. My guess is if you ask, almost everybody in town has some family member that the Howe’s have taken care of over the years, so I think the quality of their work in caring for those bereaved people, everybody remembers that.”

Richard Herring, a Longmont resident, says the family and the mortuary are well-known in the community.

“It was a family mortuary been here for many years,” Herring told 7NEWS. “Everybody in the area knows them. The family has been very involved in the community and lots of things. They managed to get some of the customers out of here, but it’s going to be devastating to some families.”

“I know it tugs at their heart that there are family members and loved ones in that building,” said Satur. “They wanted to do their best to at least save, protect the dignity of the deceased already in there.”

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