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Wauwatosa committee votes against cemetery crematorium

The Wauwatosa Community Affairs Committee unanimously said they don't want a crematory at a local cemetary.

The vote isn't final. The full city council will take up the issue on Tuesday, February 6th.

The committee members generally said there's unknown risks to adding a crematorium and no benefits to changing city ordinance -- adding that other areas of the city are zoned for cremation.

Pinelawn Memorial Park would need a zoning change to put a crematorium on their property, and that would open the door for any other cemetery in the city to do the same.

"If it gets changed, when they come for conditional use at either cemetery, it's a lot harder to oppose something that's already approved use so it becomes a bigger challenge to the constituents or the neighbors of those places," said Alderman Jason Wilke, 8th district.

Alderman Wilke says now is the time for tax payers with concerns to speak up. He says Pinelawn is tax-exempt, so he's siding with the paying taxpayers on this issue.

In the public comment portion, Pinelawn Memorial Park spoke first. They say a lot of people are choosing cremation over burials, and they want to add the ability at their facility. They say there's no smoke, no smell, and only heat vapors.

Pinelawn says there are no emissions or side affects to cremation, and they showed the committee and residents other local funeral homes with crematories in residential areas.

"Unfortunately some of the information tonight is based off of personal opinion. We just hope that next week's meeting can be based off of fact," said Chistine Hentges, Pinelawn Memorial Park President.

Pinelawn has uploaded information on emissions and mercury related to cremation on the FAQ section of their website, click here to view the page.

The citizens that spoke at the committee meeting said they still worry about emissions, pollution, mercury levels, and other issues. Around a dozen residents at the meeting registered opposing the proposal -- many of them speaking at the meeting.

"We don't have independent research to know if extra mercury or solutions would impact our health longterm," said neighbor Sean Roberts.

Wauwatosa Cemetery did contact the city to let them know if the zoning laws are changed, they don't plan to build a crematorium.

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