Changes to zoning of the Commercial Business (CB) and Light Industrial (LI) districts were discussed Monday evening at the November meeting of the Palisade Planning Commission. The meeting, originally scheduled for November 2, had been rescheduled for November 16 to accommodate a request for rezoning in a more timely way.

Anthony and Karlene Garcia, operators of the Grand Valley Funeral Homes, filed the request with the Town of Palisade in anticipation of opening a funeral home and crematorium in Palisade.

The Garcias were present at Monday’s meeting at the Civic Center, 341 W. 7th Street, to answer any questions, and to express their desire to open a business in Palisade, expecting to hire 2 or 3 local workers as well as purchasing a local property.

According to the current zoning specifications, there is no allowance for crematories as a part of a funeral home business in the CB district. They are currently permitted as a conditional use in the LI district.

Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Fruita, Delta, and Montrose all allow crematories as a part of a funeral home business, some specifically mentioning the crematorium, others accepting that it was part of a funeral business without mentioning it specifically. In no cases are crematories specifically identified as requiring different zoning from funeral home or mortuary use.

A construction permit for a crematorium would be issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – Air Pollution Control Division. They also issue regulations that prohibit any detectable odors or particulate pollutants from emanating from the facility. All operations would be conducted within regular business hours.

The Colorado Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Regulation (“Program”) also regulates funeral homes and crematories. Their program includes registration of funeral homes and crematories; investigation of complaints and enforcement of disciplinary actions against those who violate the Mortuary Science Code and the Office of Funeral Home and Crematory Registration Rules.

Agreeing that a change should be made to Palisade’s Land Development Code (LDC) to allow for a more comprehensive definition of the funeral business, commissioners debated whether to recommend a fairly straightforward solution of simply allowing crematories as a standard part of the funeral home definition in either the CB or LI districts, or to ask that the crematories be allowed in the CB and the LI districts only after approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), allowing for a process that would include public feedback on the CUP application.

Commission members voted (six yes, one no) to recommend to Trustees that the text amendment to the code be passed, allowing crematoriums as a stand-alone business or attached to a funeral home in the CB and LI zones, with the stipulation that a crematorium will also require a CUP. Although the CUP application slows the process slightly for the business owner/applicant, it also allows for a process of public feedback, since either a CB or LI zone could also be adjacent to a residential zone.

Attending Monday’s meeting were commissioners Rick Gibson, Charlotte Wheeler, Ron Gearhart, Betsy McLaughlin, Lafe Wood, Kenneth Ruth and Robynn Sundermeier, as well as Community Development Director Ron Quarles and Administrative Assistant Keli Frasier. The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Monday, December 7 at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center meeting room.

Following a brief discussion about the new signage that is now going up around Palisade, the meeting was adjourned.