City Council approves plan for funeral home off Common Street

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

The Lake Charles City Council on Wednesday unanimously OK’d a developer’s plan to build a funeral home off Common Street.

The panel voted 7-0 to allow Land Management and Realty Services Co. in Lake Charles to build a 30,000-square-foot structure

that would include 300 parking spaces and cost about $10 million.

Lake Charles architect Randy Goodloe represented the group that wants to build the funeral home.

Before the vote, Goodloe said the investors were willing to make concessions to address the concerns of people who would live

next to the building.

“My client has decided to take the crematorium off the plan, build an 8-foot fence, and not have a driveway on Oakwood Street,”

he said.

A group of residents who opposed the funeral home were staunchly against the crematorium due to concerns of air pollution.

Goodloe said entrance and exit from the property would only be on Common Street. Originally, an exit and entrance were supposed

to be built on Oakwood, but it was understood that would cause traffic problems in the residential area.

“But we feel this is the highest and best use for the property and there would be a buffer between the homes and highway with

the building between them,” Goodloe said.

Sundaram Swetharanyam knew the crematorium had been dropped from the development plan, but still voiced opposition to the

funeral home.

“Why this business? Why here? Why now?” Swetharanyam said. “Do we expect a lot of people to die in the future?”

Swetharanyam, who lives at 525 Jefferson St., told the council about court decisions that labeled funeral homes in neighborhoods

as nuisances.

Albert Prater, who lives at 445 Jefferson St., has no problem with a funeral home in the community, but is worried about a

crematorium being built in the city.

“We need to address where they are put. It is a processing plant,” he said.

Prater is concerned that people who die as a result of cancer — and were treated with radiation and chemicals — would pollute

the air during cremation.

District A City Councilman Marshall Simien agreed with residents’ concern about a crematorium near a residential area. “That’s

just kind of creepy to me,” he said.

District F City Councilman Dana Jackson said he understood why some residents would voice displeasure about a funeral home

near them.

“First, I do think this is a good project. But some people don’t want to live next to a bunch of dead bodies,” he said.

District B City Councilwoman Luvertha August thinks the funeral home is “in good taste” and has no problems with its existence

in a neighborhood. She said there are other funeral homes in residential areas of the city.

“And I live next to a graveyard, and they are the best neighbors in the world,” August said.

A City Council committee — consisting of August, Jackson and Stuart Weatherford — was appointed by president Mark Eckard.

The committee will consider issues related to crematoriums and possible regulations.

Next week, the council may put an

ordinance on its agenda to impose a moratorium on crematorium

applications, until the committee’s

work is done.