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Homewood trustees defer decision on proposed crematorium

Homewood trustees decided to delay a vote at their Aug. 22 meeting on a request for a special use permit to operate a crematorium in the Homewood Business Park Condominium in Bretz Drive.

The petitioner, Jeffrey N. Sachs, answered questions at the meeting about his plans to develop Manna Crematory at 17803 Bretz Drive on Homewood’s east side.

The proposed crematorium would be in Building C of the Homewood Business Park Condominium. The business complex currently is home to one crematorium, operated by the Cremation Society of Illinois (CSI), which is located in a separate building and has operated in Homewood since 2012.

Mayor Rich Hofeld asked Sachs to tell the board about his plans for the business.

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“My plans for the crem is to service funeral homes,” he said. “I’ve been in the funeral business for 31 years. I’ve had two positions as manager in two funeral homes. I’ve worked in funeral homes that have crematories, so I have crematory experience. I have experience running the machines.”

Three members of the audience spoke in opposition to the special use permit.

Two, Gerald Sullivan and Rita Alexander, represented CSI.

Alexander, vice president of sales, provided an overview of the company’s history in the business, which goes back to 1983. It operates 10 crematoria in the region.

Sullivan, president of CSI, challenged Sachs’ qualifications to operate the business.

“We’re against this project,” he said. “We don’t feel Mr. Sachs has enough experience in the cremation business. He did state he has 31 years of experience in the funeral business, which is entirely different from the cremation business.”

Hofeld asked Sachs if he was certified to operate a crematorium.

“No. Not now,” Sachs said. “That’s a process that I’m going to be taking on later. That’s going to be sponsored through the company that’s going to build the actual machines.”

Another business owner in the condominium said she opposed the permit, too. Raiye Rosado, co-owner of Rabid Brewing at 17759 Bretz Drive, said the proposed crematorium would be only a couple of doors down from her business.

“When we originally chose our location we knew where the Crematorium Society of Illinois was. We specifically chose a location that was as far away as you could get,” she said. “As wonderful a job as they do, occasionally there are aromas that come out from the cremation process. Thankfully, because of the distance between our facilities, it’s never really a thing. I’m concerned if you put a facility two doors down … it will negatively impact my customers’ experience.”

Economic Development Director Angela Mesaros said when the village Planning and Zoning Commission considered the request on Aug. 10, members voted 4 to 2 in favor of recommending the Board of Trustees approve the request. 

Trustees Julie Willis, Anne Colton and Jay Heiferman expressed reservations about the permit request. Heiferman said it was a rare occasion when he would oppose a measure recommended by the commission. 

Colton said she would like to study the commission’s deliberations before making a final decision. She noted the minutes of the Aug. 10 commission meeting had not yet been approved.

Hofeld also suggested the request be deferred.

“On the advice of counsel, I’ve been told it would probably be best if this board were to review in detail the minutes of the Planning and Zoning board,” he said.

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