The White Plains Rural Cemetery Association won an appeal in a quest it began in 2014 to build a crematorium on its property at 167 N. Broadway in White Plains.
Citing financial difficulties in part because the cemetery is running out of space for future burials, the Association requested a zoning exemption to add a crematorium to the facilities and uses of the site.
The Jan. 30 decision of the Second Appeal Division that the Cemetery Association should be allowed to build the crematorium stated that the White Plains Zoning Board’s decision not to allow the change was “arbitrary and capricious” because it did not There was no rational basis for Council to determine that the Cemeteries Association encountered no real financial difficulty, a point often used to obtain zoning deviations.
The court decision also stated: “The Commission wrongly determined that the 1,800 square foot crematorium would alter the essential character of the neighborhood. Unrefuted evidence showed that the crematorium would be private, odorless and emit no visible smoke, and had passed all necessary emissions and air quality tests. Other evidence indicated that the structure would not impact nearby historic resources and that the crematorium was not visible from the nearest residence, which is 400 feet away and across a major highway. interstate. The (zoning) council’s other concerns that surrounding homes would decline in value and that granting the waiver would allow additional crematoriums to be built on the property in question are based on nothing more than speculation and appear to be the product. widespread opposition from the community.
The private, non-denominational cemetery has major historical significance to the Town of White Plains as a burial site dating back to the 1700s and a site for the town’s Remembrance Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The land covers 30 acres with walkways, old trees and lush landscaping. The cemetery has been in operation since 1854, before residential zoning was established in the area. The operation of a cemetery was considered a legal and non-conforming use in the residential area.
Residents of the North Broadway Citizens Association and the City of White Plains have expressed concern that they have blocked construction of a crematorium on the site since the request was first made in 2014.
A permit was initially denied by the White Plains Building Department and a waiver denied by the Zoning Board of Appeals, which asserted that the proposed crematorium is not a proper use in a cemetery.
In a request for comment on the Jan. 30 decision to allow the crematorium plans to proceed, John Callahan, attorney for the Town of White Plains, said: “We are reviewing the notice and have not yet decided. ‘leave to appeal from the court had to be sought. “
Likewise, the White Plains Rural Cemetery Association responded, “On the advice of our lawyer, we have no comments at this time. “
According to the 2018 Cremation and Burial Report, released by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) over the next 18 years, the cremation rate in the United States is expected to increase by nearly 30%. Having already exceeded the burial rate for three consecutive years, the national cremation rate will reach nearly 80% (or 2.80 million cremations per year) by 2035, according to the NFDA, based on various factors, including changing consumer preferences, weakening religious prohibitions. and environmental concerns. According to the 2018 report, the national cremation rate in 2018 is expected to be 53.5% and the burial rate is expected to be 40.5%.