SEBASTIAN – After nearly two hours of testimony and debate, the Sebastian Planning and Zoning Commission approved a larger crematorium at the Seawinds Funeral Home on Fleming Street near the Elks Lodge Thursday night.
The vote came after a compromise with Funeral Director James Young, who agreed to install fire rated walls and ceiling in the new 980-square-foot building and beef up the site’s landscaping.
However, it wasn’t enough for the approximately 50 Elks members and supporters. “It stinks,” said Elks Lodge president Charles DeLauder outside the Planning and Zoning meeting after the 5-1 vote to approve the crematorium.
“We’re disappointed,” member Herman Heydinger added, explaining that the planning commissioners had discussed relocating the crematorium elsewhere on the property but ultimately decided against it.
Instead, commissioners asked Young to “give a little” and “extend an olive branch” to the neighbors and requested he take extra fire precautions within the crematorium and add more screening to better block the view of the facility.
The concern over fire protection came after a blaze that destroyed the crematorium in early November and threatened the Elks Lodge located 20 feet away.
“We would not have had an Elks Lodge today” if the wind had been blowing in the right direction DeLauder said at the planning meeting.
Young and city staff contend that the crematorium’s structure behaved as it was supposed to when the fire broke out in November. A fire report from Indian River County Fire Rescue makes the same statement.
With the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval Thursday night, construction could begin soon with completion expected in March, Young said.