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Staff responds to crematory challenge

Clallam County hearing examiner Chris Melly is set to re-review a proposal Wednesday, June 11, to place a crematory in Carlsborg.

Jason Linde, of Linde Family Funeral Service in Sequim, received initial approval from Melly on May 7 to create a crematory in Carlsborg. Melly makes decisions on applications for a land use that is unidentified in Clallam County code, in this case, the creation of a crematory in a building at 108 Business Park Loop in Carlsborg’s light industrial park.

Melly put stipulations on his approval, such as Linde’s need to obtain a building and an emissions permit. Clallam County awarded the building permit and the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency is likely to hold a public hearing before deciding if it will give Linde a permit for emissions.

Citizens for Carlsborg, a coalition of land and business owners, formed to oppose the crematory. The group petitioned Melly to reconsider the approval, including information on Carlsborg’s present label of invalidity given by the state, which restricts the county’s ability to approve certain land uses within the invalid zone, Carlsborg.

Melly will reconsider his decision at 1 p.m. today, June 11, in Courtroom 1 of the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

County staff said Linde’s application was made before the state’s decision, meaning it is unaffected by the ruling. But the permit states the building is for storage, meaning Linde will need a change of use permit to alter the use of the building. That application will be subject to the state ruling.

“The Growth Management Hearings Board decision would allow a new commercial change of use permit to be issued if it is on an existing building in Carlsborg and if the change in use does not cause an increased demand on the septic system,” county planning manager Steve Gray said. “So if or when we receive an application, we would look closely and see if the intended use would affect our ability to award a permit.”

The Citizens for Carlsborg disagree, stating the county is overstepping its bounds.

“The Carlsborg community has been asked to absorb a new industry, a crematorium, without what we view as an appropriate review process,” said Ian Robertson, president of Citizens for Carlsborg. “Building permits are often hard to obtain, but Linde Family Funeral Service has managed to get a permit to store cadavers in Carlsborg in anticipation of a permit to install a crematorium.”

For now, Linde is working on a second approval from Melly, a change of use permit and an emissions permit while the citizen group is working on a successful challenge along the way.

The group has continued to gain new membership and support since its formation, coordinating appearances at county hearings, numerous letters to the editor and a street-side picket against the crematory.

However, Linde has gained support as well. The People’s Memorial Association, a nonprofit that Linde represents on the Olympic Peninsula, is spreading its voice in the community, sending a letter of support to its 11,000 members in the area.

The letter identifies Clallam County as having one of the highest rates of cremation in the country coupled with some of the highest prices, something Linde’s competition would bring down. The letter also points out that two existing area crematories, Drennan Ford Funeral Home and Mount Angeles Cemetery, are on the same road in Port Angeles, adjacent to Roosevelt Elementary School for years.

“If Clallam County residents are truly concerned about the impact of a crematory on quality of life, health and property values, they should review whether those two existing crematories have had any negative impact on the neighborhood,” the letter states.

People’s Memorial alleges the two funeral homes are encouraging the citizen group in order to keep Linde operating out of Kent, where he currently performs cremations.

“People’s Memorial Association has accused us of working at the behest of local funeral homes and that we are given to disseminating ‘fear, hysteria and misinformation.’ These accusations would be laughable, were the subject not so serious,” Robertson said.

For more information on the Citizens for Carlsborg, visit the group’s Web site at www.

citizensforcarlsborg.org. To learn more about the People’s Memorial Service, visit its Web site at www.peoples-memorial.org.

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