Written by MICHAEL LoCICERO
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 18:37
Plan Commission warm to church’s plan, but says one-acre site is too small
Village of Belgium Plan Commission members Tuesday denied a request from St. Mark Lutheran Church to allow a one-acre cemetery on the property.
State law mandates that cemeteries be at least 20 acres, unless a village adopts an ordinance stating otherwise.
The church, which owns five acres at 200 Park St., wants to have the first cemetery inside village limits.
Village President Rich Howells, who also chairs the Plan Commission, said he was worried that a one-acre cemetery is too small.
“I think the project is an excellent idea and the village needs or should have one,” Howells said. “Just not there. I think cemeteries should be at least five acres.”
Plan Commission members agreed, saying one acre would fill up quickly.
“Does this mean they will want to eventually expand?” member Don Tuhy asked.
In August, church members asked to build a site that would include trees and berms with flowers to make the cemetery look more like a park than a burial ground.
A driveway would be installed so visitors would be able to drive close to grave sites. Church officials said it would only have flat gravestones.
Village Attorney Gerry Antoine told the church that cemeteries had several state laws it had to meet, including being no less than 20 acres.
The Plan Commission would have also had to pass an ordinance allowing the cemetery to be within 3,300 feet of an inhabited dwelling.
Howells said he supported a cemetery in the village and would work with the church to try to find a larger site or location for the cemetery.
“I’m always trying to think long range and as soon as the one acre would fill up, they would have to come back here again and ask us to expand,” Howells said. “I am more than happy to work with them and see if we can find something bigger.”
The proposed recommendation to the Village Board failed, 4-1, with Clem Gottsacker voting to pass the ordinance.