Crematory appeals scheduled

Challenges are lining up against Linde Family Funeral Service's attempt to install a crematorium in Calsborg.

Linde is the subject of heated debate in the county due to his plan to install a cremation chamber and cadaver refrigeration unit at 108 Business Park Loop in Carlsborg's light industrial park.

However, it's Clallam County's Department of Community Development that is locked in legal appeals filed by attorneys of Carlsborg business owners and a group of citizens opposed to the plan, Citizens for Carlsborg, because it has allowed the project to continue though the system.

The citizen group and Gabbys Java owner Brian Magner are in the second stage of appealing Clallam County hearing examiner Christopher Melly's decision to allow the crematory.

Melly makes decisions on land uses that are not identified in building or zoning codes. He allowed the crematorium to be installed into the existing structure if Linde obtained an updated building permit to replace one that had expired when the structure was originally built and an emissions permit for the cremation chamber.

The Clallam County board of commissioners was scheduled to hear the appeal on Aug. 19 but due to scheduling conflicts, a new meeting may be set later in the month or within the first week of September.

Olympia attorney Gerald Steel, for Citizens for Carlsborg, and Port Angeles attorney Craig Miller, for Magner, challenged Melly's decision based on allegations that he erred in his interpretation of land use laws.

Melly aligned a crematory, which isn't identified in code, with a veterinarian office, which is an approved use in the area, because he understood the clinics often have cremation chambers for pet remains. The attorneys argue the crematory should have been likened to a cemetery, which is not an allowed use of land in Carlsborg.

While the conditional use permit appeal is pending in the commissioners' hands, Steel also is appealing the final building permit, or certificate of occupancy, which Clallam County awarded to the structure on June 2. Without the permit Linde would be unable to operate a crematorium in the building.

Steel argues that since the original building permit had expired, Linde, or the building's owner Cory Startup, would need a new building permit and that any other approval would be in violation of the 2006 international building code.

Also, Steel argues that had Linde or Startup been required to file for a new building permit, the county would not have been allowed to approve it due to restrictions on buildings being vested in Carlsborg after an April 23 Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board decision that the area's planning was invalid.

While Steel would like the building permit appeal to go in front of an appeals board, Clallam County does not have one and staff has indicated Melly will preside over the permit challenge.

Melly will review whether or nor the county violated county code or international building code when it awarded the final building or occupancy permit during his regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. in the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

Beyond legalities

The commissioners' decision on the conditional use permit will be based on land use code and Melly's decision on the certificate of occupancy permit will be based on building code.

However, members of the citizen group are asking for more to be included in the decision making process, including impacts to nearby businesses and increased emissions to the area with possibly hazardous particulates from dental fillings and other prosthetic human implants. Also, citizens have expressed concerns over possible impacts from a failed refrigeration unit or one that is inoperable during a power outage.

Linde is required to obtain an emissions permit from the Olympic Regional Clean Air Agency and he states those living or working nearby will hardly notice his operation.

He is adamant his emissions will be odorless and less harmful than smoke from a fireplace. He stated his cremation chamber is a new model and one of the best on the market.

Also, citizens call into question Linde's early usage of the building, which dated back before the final certificate of occupancy was issued. Linde presently stores cadavers in a refrigeration unit before transporting them to Seattle for cremation.

Linde is a member of the People's Memorial Association, a funeral service oriented nonprofit, and is the organization's representative on the peninsula. He is looking to build the crematorium to serve his clients without having to transport their loved ones across Puget Sound and back. He said he would only serve people living on the peninsula and that his clients would not come from the Interstate 5 corridor.

Timeline of Linde Family Funeral Service application to install a crematory in Carlsborg:

• Sept. 22, 2003 - Building permit for 108 Business Park Loop awarded by Clallam County to landowner

• Sept. 22, 2005 - Building permit expires without final certificate of occupancy issued.

• March 6, 2008 - Jason Linde filed for conditional use permit to install crematory at 108 Business Park Loop.

• April 4, 2008 - Public notified of crematory land use public hearing.

• April 11-14, 2008 - Petitions submitted by Carlsborg businessman Brian Magner against crematory.

• May 7, 2008 - Clallam County hearing examiner Christopher Melly awards use permit with conditions of updated building permit and emissions permit.

• May 7, 2008 - Attorney Gerald Steel gathers affidavits alleging Linde has been storing cadavers in structure for seven months.

• May 10, 2008 - Citizens for Carlsborg forms to fight crematory approval.

• June 2, 2008 - Clallam County building official awards Certificate of Occupancy for industrial park structure.

• June 11, 2008 - Melly upholds his decision in examiner reconsideration hearing.

• June 16, 2008 - Steel requests hearing to appeal occupancy permit's authority.

• July 7, 2008 - Steel appeals Melly's decision to Clallam County commissioners.

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