The debate over the crematory could have been prevented if city officials had notified the community.

Here’s how we got to where we are:

  • On April 4, Bill Dexter requested a zoning verification letter from Stanwood to operate a funeral home/crematorium in the city’s Main Street Business 1 zoning district.
  • On Aug. 1, the city received a written complaint suggesting the city erred in stating that the proposed funeral home/crematorium was not a permitted use.
  • On Aug. 2, a letter from the city urged Dexter to discontinue work on the crematory portion of the building repairs until further investigation was completed.
  • On Aug. 13, city officials wrote Dexter to state that the city has determined the zoning certification letter issued to him as it relates to a crematorium use (but not funeral home use) was done so in error.
  • On Aug. 13, the city staff informed Dexter that the crematorium portion of the funeral home would need to be treated as an unclassified use, changing from a permitted use.
  • On Aug. 30, an appeal was filed.
  • On Oct. 25, there was a hearing.
  • On Dec. 2, the hearing examiner made his decision.

Along the way I feel there were errors by city staff, including changing the zoning verification three times: from permitted use to unclassified use to an accessory use.

The examiner stated in his decision that “as an accessory use, a crematory must be incidental to the funeral establishment/home use. To put it bluntly, the funeral home cannot be a cover for a crematory serving numerous other funeral homes, perhaps even with multiple emission chambers in operation. Thus, like CDD, the Examiner concludes that the Administrative Interpretation must include limiting conditions to define the use that is accessory to the principal use. However, the Examiner concludes that the conditions imposed by CDD are inadequate and (partly) inappropriate.”

I understand that with Type 1 uses there does not need to be public notification. But out of respect for Stanwood residents, we need to be involved in decision-making about our town, especially in this case.

This is not the first time this has happened.

The city allowed a septage plant near Wayne’s Café, which fell through. The city wanted a retail marijuana shop on Main Street. And now a crematory that incinerates bodies to be located in a delicate part of our historical downtown.

This could have gone unnoticed if citizens had not complained. As soon as they complained, the city officials knew they made an error. They had to fix a mistake that should have never been allowed.

Peggy Kitting


— Peggy Kitting lives in Stanwood and was among those who filed an appeal to Stanwood’s decision to allow a crematory in downtown. 

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