Chesterfield looking to create cremation ordinance

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Wednesday afternoon the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors officially asked the Planning Commission to re-evaluate where urns can be stored in the county.

It's a personal choice that's becoming more common- cremating human remains.

"Well the church, probably 30 years ago, said that it is alright for us to cremate," said Father Donald Lemay with Saint Edwards Catholic Church.

Because of that, Father Donald Lemay at Saint Edwards Catholic Church says more members are considering it as their final request.

"It's an issue of expense. So they can save a considerable amount of money," he said.

A local funeral parlor said a casket funeral can start at $7,000, cremation costs less than half that. Then comes the decision of where to place the remains. Many churches, like Saint Edwards, want to build columbarium's which are permanent structures with niches that house ash containers.

"I think we're looking initially at maybe 500 niches. With the understanding that if it becomes popular, that we can always expand," said Father Donald Lemay.

But right now, there is no set ordinance specifically for columbarium's, making the permit process tedious and costly.

Right now, a conditional use permit from Planning and Zoning but if the change is made- applying for a columbarium would become an administrative process; equaling less money and time for both churches and the county.

The county wants the Planning Commission to draft an ordinance that would allow churches to have columbarium's on their property. Restrictions, including well-maintained records of next of kin, would be required. According to one planning commissioner, the process should be simple. No opposition is expected.

Once the planning commission is done with the re-write it will then go back to the supervisors for final approval. Supervisors have asked for the draft to be ready in 100 days.

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