WHITE PLAINS – The historic rural White Plains cemetery is requesting a zoning change for the town to allow for the construction of a crematorium.
“In light of the clear trends from underground burials to cremation,” the cemetery said the cremation facility is necessary “to remain financially viable in the long term,” in a letter submitted to the Joint Council last week.
167 North Broadway Cemetery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is requesting that the zoning code be amended to allow the construction of a crematorium on properties over 20 acres and currently set up as cemeteries. The municipal council referred the request to various municipal agencies for review and comment; a vote on the request has not yet been scheduled.
If approved, the White Plains Rural Cemetery Association said in its letter that a one-story, 1,800-square-foot crematorium building would be constructed on an existing maintenance site located off of Cemetery Road, adjacent to the ‘Interstate 287, about 100 yards down the hill from North Broadway. The neighborhood is not near residential buildings on North Broadway or near Ferris Avenue.
Cemetery officials could not be reached for comment.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the number of cremations performed in the United States has increased steadily in recent years. In 2010, 61.4% of all funerals ended in burials. This year, the association predicts that 46.7% will involve cremation this year. By 2020, most funerals will involve cremation.
Organized in 1854, the 30-acre cemetery includes graves from the 1700s, when it was part of the First Methodist Church in White Plains. The church building now serves as the cemetery office. The city’s annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations are held here.
Notable graves include James Bard, a 19th century painter of Hudson River ships; Margaret Floy Washburn, the first woman to earn a doctorate in psychology; “The Waltons” television actor Ralph Waite; and former heavyweight boxing contender Carl “The Truth” Williams.