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Carlsborg crematory passes second review

While Jason Linde received reaffirmation of a Clallam County hearing examiner decision allowing him to install a crematory chamber in a warehouse in Carlsborg, a group opposing his efforts has two plans to stifle his success.

The plans are to appeal the crematory’s approval and to appeal Linde’s certificate of occupancy for the

building.

Linde, owner of Linde Family Funeral Service in Sequim, needed approval from the hearing examiner because crematories are not an identified use in the Clallam County Code.

Linde received approval from the examiner in early May, after which a citizens group, Citizens for Carlsborg, formed to oppose the crematory, slated for installation in an existing structure at 108 Business Park Loop in Carlsborg.

The group’s attorney Gerald Steel filed for hearing examiner Chris Melly to reconsider his decision by arguing the citizens did not have enough time to form arguments and that some facts could not have been found before the first hearing.

Melly presided over a second hearing June 11 and took arguments from Steel and Linde’s attorneys. He announced June 20 that he would stick with his first decision and allow the crematory’s installation.

In his decision, Melly wrote the additional evidence provided by Steel “could have been discovered and produced prior to the close of the record upon the exercise of reasonable diligence.”

The reconsideration hearing gave Melly a chance to see if new evidence could have been provided during his first hearing and to decide whether or not he should open the record or reverse his earlier decision based on that evidence.

Steel argued Melly improperly compared the crematory application to that of a veterinary clinic, which is an approved land use in the area. In the first hearing, Linde stated it was not unusual for a veterinary clinic to have a cremation chamber, although none do in Clallam County.

Also, Steel argued the county had no ability to approve the application due to a state Growth Management Hearings Board decision that deemed Carlsborg zoning “invalid.”

“We truly feel that at the reconsideration hearing there were at least two factual issues that were not properly addressed that would have changed the previous decision,” said Arthur Green, director of Citizens for Carlsborg. “In the end, it comes down to proper application on the intent of the zoning code and to the issue of location.”

The group plans on appealing the decision to the Clallam County commissioners.

Group leaders were especially upset that members were not allowed to speak at the hearing and that only testimony from the two lawyers and the county would be admitted. Melly indicated since the group formed after his decision, it was not a party of record, according to the Clallam County Code.

If the county commissioners side with Melly’s decision, the opponents can make another appeal to the Clallam County Superior Court.

While lawyers argue over the installation of a cremation chamber, Linde is storing cadavers in a refrigeration unit in the building. He received a certificate of occupancy from the county to do so.

In a separate action, Steel is appealing the county’s decision to award Linde a certificate of occupancy building permit, noting the same state hearings board decision.

County staff said the appeal of the permit may go in front of Melly as a separate item, although Steel said the matter should go in front of an appeals board, which Clallam County does not have. Planning manager Steve Gray said he and his staff are working on how to field the appeal and on setting a date to review the building permit.

Linde maintains his crematory will have no odor and no ash. He points to two other crematories in the county, which are adjacent to an elementary school in Port Angeles, stating his location is farther from Greywolf Elementary and in a light industrial park.

The citizens group would rather see the operation near a cemetery, but Linde says existing cemeteries would not allow a competitor to come on their property.

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