CITY OF MUSKEGON
January 15, 2015
Chairman T. Michalski called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. and roll was taken.
MEMBERS PRESENT: T. Michalski, B. Larson, B. Mazade, S. Wisneski, J. Doyle,
L. Spataro, B. Smith, S. Gawron
MEMBERS ABSENT: Excused: F. Peterson
STAFF PRESENT: M. Franzak, K. Cummins
OTHERS PRESENT: J. Sytsema, 737 E. Apple Ave.; D. Bossenbroek, 900 Third St.,
Muskegon; Derek Wilce, Facultatieve Technologies, 940 Lake
Road, Medina, OH 44256
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
A motion that the minutes of the regular meeting of December 11, 2014 be approved, was made
by S. Wisneski, supported by B. Larson and unanimously approved.
Hearing, Case 2015-1: Request to amend the zoning ordinance to allow crematories as a special
land use permitted in B-4, General Business districts, by Sytsema Properties, LLC. M. Franzak
presented the staff report. Crematories are currently only allowed in I-1, Light Industrial and I-2,
General Industrial districts as a use by right. The Sytsema Funeral Home would like to utilize a
crematory at their location at 737 E. Apple Avenue, which is zoned B-4, General Business
District. If the ordinance is amended to allow crematories as a special land use, then all
crematory applicants would need to apply for a special land use permit and a public hearing
would be required. Staff has researched crematories and found that it has been a somewhat
controversial subject in many areas around the county. Cremations are much more common than
in the past, and the growing demand is causing the need for more crematories. Some cities have
allowed them to be located in residential areas and others have denied these types of requests.
The main concerns most people have are the potential for pollutants and odors. The applicant
has provided several aerial maps of crematories that are located in various neighborhoods across
the country and they have also included a manual from Facultatieve Technologies, which is the
brand of crematory they are interested in using (please note that this amendment wouldn’t
require all crematories to use this type of model, but it can be used as an example of
environmental effects). There are currently two crematories in the Muskegon area: One is at
Ever Rest Funeral Home at 1783 E. Keating in Muskegon, and one is at Phoenix Crematory
Services, 525 W. Hume Ave in Muskegon Heights. All crematories in Michigan are required to
be licensed from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
T. Michalski asked if the proposed technology was the best and least polluting. M Franzak
stated that the type of unit that Sytsema was proposing seemed to be top-of-the-line, and the type
of equipment to encourage if the ordinance amendment was allowed. B. Larson asked if the
funeral home was required to get a license from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory
Affairs, and if so, if they were required to inform the City. M. Franzak confirmed that they had
to get a state license, but the City was not involved in that process. L. Spataro thought the key
issue was whether this ordinance amendment could create a nuisance to the neighbors, and was
concerned that some units may create more of a nuisance than others. He said he was unclear as
to who had regulatory authority over certifying the equipment that could be used. J. Sytsema
stated that they fell under the guidelines of the EPA. L. Spataro stated that he would not be
opposed to the request if there was no real nuisance concern with the neighbors. B. Smith asked
if existing funeral homes would have to apply for a special use permit if approved. M. Franzak
explained that the ordinance applied only to those facilities located in B-4 zoning districts. B.
Mazade asked if the Planning Commission would be able to approve the type of technology once
the ordinance amendment and special use permit were approved. M. Franzak stated that the
proposed ordinance did not contain specific equipment standards, and that specifications would
be given to the Planning Commissioners so they could make a decision on a case by case basis.
J. Doyle inquired whether notices were sent to the surrounding property owners, and if there was
any response. M. Franzak replied that notices were not mailed to individual property owners
because the issue was a general ordinance amendment, and did not apply to only one specific
business; however, there was a Public Hearing Notice published in the newspaper. M. Franzak
stated that he had not received any comments. He pointed out that this was just a proposed
amendment, and the board could put restrictions on it if they thought it was necessary, such as
requiring as a certain distance from houses or neighborhoods.
D. Bossenbroek, attorney for Sytsema Funeral Home, presented brochures to help answer
questions and provide state standards. He stated that the special use permit would allow the City
to retain control on location, parking, type of equipment, whether it complied with EPA
standards, state licensing and the like. D. Bossenbroek stated that the popularity of cremations
was on the rise, and he voiced Sytsema’s desire to provide a complete service at their facility
without having to send families out to an industrial park. J. Sytsema stated that the Sytsema
Funeral Home had been a part of the City of Muskegon since 1929, and they had opted to remain
in the City because Apple Avenue was where their main office was. All services went through
that office and they had staff and space there. He stated that they desired to invest more in the
City of Muskegon without doing anything that might be a detriment to the neighborhood. He
stated that, while there are homes in the area, there are no residents living within 100 feet of the
facility. Discussing odors, J. Sytsema said the only time there might be an incident is if there
were a power failure. While the equipment was run on natural gas, it also required electricity,
and they would install a back-up generator to function in the case of a power failure. He stated
that maintenance check-ups would be performed every 15 months by Facultatieve, and that if
adverse conditions were present, the computer would shut the equipment down. He stated there
were eight different chemicals that could go up in exhaust, and that six of the eight registered 0%
emission, and the two remaining were less than 1%. Sytsema stated that the machine would be
installed in a climate-controlled garage on the premises. S. Wisneski stated that his concern was
not with the organization, but with state licensing and allowing this particular type of facility
within the City limits. He wanted to know who the regulating authority was and who set the
standards. He wasn’t convinced that the state alone should be the threshold for quality, and felt
there ought to be a higher standard. J. Sytsema stated that by making this a Special Land Use,
the Planning Commission would have the authority to govern what was allowed. He stated that
they are inspected by the State Department of Licensing and that Facultatieve Technologies
came highly recommended. S. Wisneski asked J. Sytsema if he was aware of any DNR or EPA
regulations that required a specific level of quality. J. Sytsema stated that the information was in
the paperwork presented. D. Wilce of Facultatieve Technologies spoke to the environmental
concerns, stating that the Michigan DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) monitored
what was emitted out of the stack during the cremation process. S. Wisneski asked who
monitored facilities providing substandard conditions. D. Wilce responded that all faults were
supposed to be reported, and that the machine’s computer ran 24/7 logging and recording
information. D. Wilce said that their machine monitored the temperature in the primary chamber
and the secondary chamber where all the gasses are burned off. They measure the temperature in
the stack that is exiting the machine, and they have the capability of remotely accessing the
machine at any time.
The board discussed Michigan DEQ restrictions and decided that the Planning Commission
would review requests on a case-by-case basis, rather than including specific equipment
specifications in the ordinance.
A motion to close the public hearing was made by B. Mazade, supported by S. Wisneski and
A motion that the proposed amendment to Section 1301 of the City of Muskegon Zoning
Ordinance, to allow crematories as a special land use permitted in B-4, General Business
districts, be recommended to the City Commission for approval was made by L. Spataro,
supported by B. Larson and unanimously approved.
L. Spataro informed Mr. Sytsema that the City Commission would also have to approve the
L. Spataro requested an update on the Form Based Code changes. M. Franzak stated that the
code is being wrapped up and should be finalized by spring.
Chairperson A motion to retain Tim Michalski as Chairperson was made by L. Spataro,
supported by S. Wisneski and unanimously approved.
Vice-Chairperson A motion to retain Bill Larson as Vice-Chairperson was made by L. Spataro,
supported by J. Doyle and unanimously approved.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:40 p.m.