Commissioners decide against crematorium

Citing errors in the interpretation of the county’s zoning code by Kitsap County Hearing Examiner Terrence McCarthy, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners unanimously reversed the decision March 21 that would have allowed the operation of a crematorium in Bremerton’s Navy Yard City neighborhood.

The proposed crematorium was to be located at the corner of G Street and Charlotte Avenue and would be operated by the Kass Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island.

Commissioner Jan Angel highlighted to three specific issues in announcing the decision.

Among the issues were the hearing examiner’s determination that the neighbors and school district failed to appeal the building permit in a timely manner.

“The building permit was issued on July 22, 2004, and on August 9, 2004, the DCD notified the Kasses they would have to go through the site review process prior to proceeding with their project,” Angel stated.

This notification took place 18 days after the permit was issued, which validly revoked the previously issued building permit, she said.

The Commissioners also found that crematoriums are allowed in other zones than the highway tourist commercial designation.

The Hearing Examiner used the similarity analysis of the zoning to make this determination, she said.

“Mortuaries are allowed uses in highway tourist commercial zones subject to site plan review,” she stated. “Crematories, however, are not listed as allowed uses within any of the commercial zones.”

Mortuaries are not one and the same in the county’s zoning ordinances and are treated differently in other places in the zoning code, she said.

Crematoriums are also required to be located on county arterials, while mortuaries are not, she stated.

“There is no ambiguity in the law that would allow the similar analysis,” she said.

“Crematories are not a listed use within the highway tourist commercial zone.”

Crematories are listed in other parts of the zoning code she said.

The commissioners also found that the hearing examiner’s ruling about the crematory’s proximity to a county arterial was incorrect.

“It is undisputed that this crematorium is not located on a county arterial,” Angel said. “There was no request for a variance.”

Those three issues were the major issues that resulted in the overturning of the Hearing Examiner’s decision.

“We are obviously pleased that the Commissioners ruled the way they did,” said Roger Lubovich Bremerton city attorney.

The city would not have entered the dispute if its leaders believed the zoning was correct, Lubovich said.

“It’s in our urban growth area and we didn’t think that was the proper zoning, and that’s the reason we stepped in,” he said.

The city is also pleased that the Commissioners ruled partly on the points that it raised during the appeal, Lubovich said.

The Bremerton School District is focused on serving its students, said Kevin Ferguson, director of finance and operations for the school district.

“The school district supports all kinds of businesses in the city and hopes we can move forward from here,” Ferguson said.

The Kasses declined comment after the ruling and have 21 days to appeal the decision.

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