A cemetery in Folsom has withdrawn its plan to build a crematorium after neighbors filed a lawsuit raising environmental and municipal code concerns over the proposal.
For now, the Lakeside Memorial Lawn Cemetery near Natoma Lake is not moving forward with its crematorium under an agreement reached with neighbors in August.
Folsom Town Council confirmed the deal last week by canceling a permit it had granted in June for the project. The settlement required Lakeside to ask the city council to cancel its conditional use permit.
The lawsuit was brought by members of Friends of Folsom Preservation, an organization dedicated to protecting and defending Folsom’s natural and historic resources, according to its website.
Terry Sorensen, 74, is a retired attorney and the organization’s legal counsel. He said he lived across from Lakeside and that a crematorium would spoil the historic nature of the area.
“I think the cemetery is a beautiful place,” Sorensen said. “It has graves dating back to the 1850s and is part of the history of Folsom and this part of California. It’s pretty frustrating doing the job that I think the city should be doing. It’s the job of the city to look at these projects and do what is good for the environment and historicity.
He said other residents had raised health concerns about air pollution and fires, as the crematorium would require the installation of large propane tanks and “there is a large eucalyptus forest in the region”.
Representatives for Lakeside did not respond to requests for comment.
According to the Choice Mutual Insurance Agency, cremation is the most common burial method in the United States, but that number may decline as more durable burial alternatives become available. These include natural burial, alkaline hydrolysis and body composting.
Folsom spokeswoman Christine Brainerd said the cemetery can return and offer a crematorium at its location at 1201 Forrest Street if it completes an environmental impact report under the terms of its lawsuit settlement.
Sorensen said the preservation group would challenge Lakeside if the company tried again to add a crematorium to the site.
“If they go and get an environmental impact report and prepare it, we’ll probably be back in court,” Sorensen said. “There have been recent developments in California law that I think are helpful to us when it comes to air pollution.”
This story was originally published October 3, 2022 5:30 a.m.