A hearing examiner determined the proposed crematory in Stanwood is allowed.

Examiner John E. Galt announced Dec. 2 that a crematory will be allowed as an incidental and secondary part of a funeral establishment in downtown Stanwood.

The decision follows the Oct. 25 appeal hearing in which Galt heard appellant Peggy Kitting and other citizens’ objections to the city’s approval of the crematory. Galt heard 10 hours of testimony from city officials and the crematory owners, Bill and Tari Dexter, as well.

“One step down, now we just have to wait for the appeal deadline,” Bill Dexter said. “I was very excited to see the decision and agree with it fully. (Galt) had good points."

Dexter noted that some of the decision's qualifications were things that his funeral business, American Cremation and Casket Alliance, offered to do, like putting the façade around the stack and abiding with Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Kitting, the appellant, said she and other citizens were disappointed in the decision.

"We believe that he disregarded the testimony of the witnesses, members of the community, business owners, and a crematorium operator in denying our appeal" she said in a written response. "The hearing examiner characterized our concerns and the concerns of the witnesses as 'emotional concerns.'  This is just wrong.  Evidence indicates that the crematorium will occasionally smoke and stink impacting our downtown area, the surrounding businesses, and events that occur there."

"We are glad that the hearing examiner limited the facility to one cremation unit and made the requirements of the air permit a condition of the City's approval, but this is just not enough to protect our downtown from this business," she wrote.

"As the hearing examiner noted, the City Code does not allow incineration in even the industrial areas of the City, why would we allow a similar process in the heart of our downtown?"

Kitting said she is looking at options and next steps, including asking for reconsideration and appealing but hasn't decided yet.

Galt’s decision modifies the city’s Aug. 20 decision to allow a crematory as part of a funeral home under certain conditions.

A licensed crematory may be located within the Main Street Business I zone, but only as an accessory use to an active, operating funeral home and subject to conditions:

• The accessory crematory may have only one cremation unit. Not more than five individual cremations may be performed in any one day.

• The cremation unit must have 24/7 remote monitoring and control capability.

• Technical standards are spelled out for incineration capacity and operation temperatures.

• The crematory stack must be screened or enclosed to resemble a standard chimney.

• The crematory must have a PSCAA operating permit comply with its rules.

A crematory is allowed as secondary to the funeral home business, Galt ruled.

The decision states, “A stand-alone crematory is not like any other listed use in the MB-I zone, nor would it further the purpose of the MB-I zone in any appreciable way. ... If the crematory is truly incidental and secondary to the funeral establishment, then it may be considered as an accessory use.”

Stanwood originally gave a green light to Bill and Tari Dexter’s plan to bring their Smokey Point business, American Cremation and Casket Alliance, to 8808 271st St., Stanwood so that they could install their own crematory. City staff called the crematory a listed use.

After complaints that funeral homes are allowed downtown but crematories are not, the city asked the Dexters to pause work to sort things out. On Aug. 20, the city decided to allow the crematory as an unlisted use.

Peggy Kitting appealed and Galt heard testimony in a public hearing Oct. 25.

Galt’s decision will become final after 11 business days from Dec. 2. Anyone who participated in the hearing can file a request for reconsideration within 10 days of the decision. If reconsideration is requested, the hearing examiner will act within 14 days of the request.

Neither city officials nor the appellant returned messages by Stanwood Camano News’ press time Monday afternoon. Check during the week for updates on this breaking news story.


Contact reporter Peggy Wendel at or 360-416-2189.

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