Despite Sebastian police, Elks’ concerns, larger crematorium in works

SEBASTIAN — Approval could come as early as this evening for a larger crematorium at the Seawinds Funeral Home on Fleming Street in Sebastian. The crematorium would replace the one that burned down in early November.

The reconstruction of the new, larger crematory will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight, which starts at 7 p.m. If approved, construction could begin in the very near future with completion expected in March.

But the crematorium’s rebuilding isn’t without its critics. The Elks Lodge, located next door, has concerns, as does the Sebastian Police Department. When the original crematorium burned, the flames came close enough to the Elks Lodge, prompting more than 100 bingo players to evacuate.

Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Charles DeLauder said he plans to be at the Planning and Zoning meeting Thursday to address the concerns the organization has about the funeral home’s plans.

Chief among those concerns is the proximity of the crematorium to the Elks’ building, DeLauder said. He added that if the wind had been blowing in the right direction when the crematorium caught fire, the flames would have traveled to their building.

Police Chief Michelle Morris also noted concern regarding the location of the crematorium in her review of the site plan submitted to the Planning and Zoning Board.

“This fire could have spread if it wasn’t for the quick response of the fire department,” Morris wrote in her review, adding, “My suggestion would be relocating the crematorium to the other side of the building.”

City staff has said the location of the new crematorium would meet the city’s required setbacks — meaning it would be at least 10 feet off the property line shared with the Elk’s Lodge.

Funeral Director James Young said there have been no problems in the past having the crematorium situated where it has been, adding he wants to keep it where it is.

As for whether or not he would relocate the crematorium to the other side of his property as Police Chief Morris has suggested, Young said it would require him to redraw and resubmit the plans.

“It would just be a time factor,” he said.

The other concern the Elks Lodge members have about the location of the crematorium is its proximity to a fire exit. DeLauder said when they evacuated their building in November, they couldn’t use their fire exit because just outside the door was the crematorium engulfed in flames.

Along with proposing a larger facility, adding 500 square feet, Young has plans to install a second crematory – the furnace used during cremation.

“Our business has grown,” Young said, sparking the need for a larger crematorium, a second crematory and a larger refrigeration unit.

“It’s going to be a beautiful facility,” said Young.

In the months following the crematorium’s destruction, Seawinds Funeral Home has relied on assistance from other funeral homes in the county, including Strunks and Lowther to take care of Seawinds’ cremations.

“Everything’s worked out fine,” Young said of the partnership. “We appreciate them helping us out.”

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