Council approves columbarium for Bethel Lutheran

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Bethel Lutheran Church plans to build a columbarium for its parishioners.

At the June 20 meeting, Grove City Council unanimously approved the church’s request despite concerns from residents.

Reverend Jeff Wise said Bethel Lutheran Church, located at 4501 Hoover Road, wants to construct the columbarium as a convenience for church members. A columbarium is a vault with niches for urns that contain ashes of those who have died and been cremated. The reverend said this will be place family members can go to remember their loved one.

Wise said the columbarium will consist of 99 units. Each unit would contain two urns.
According to Kyle Rauch, development director for the city, the columbarium will be about seven feet tall and eight feet wide. He said it would be partially screened.

Several neighbors attended the meeting, concerned about the plan. The language in the legislation called it a columbarium business. Some residents thought that operating a business on church grounds would increase traffic and noise to the neighborhood.

Councilwoman Laura Lanese amended the legislation stating that the property use would be specific to the columbarium, not a business.

“This is just a place to hold remains where family can visit,” said Lanese.

Still, some residents were not pleased.

Frank Verne, a resident of Clark Drive, directly behind the church, said he would be able to view this in his back yard and said an established neighborhood is not the place for a columbarium.

“Human remains in my back yard is upsetting to me,” said Verne. “Urns in my back yard?”

Wise said the church wants to be a good neighbor and they have a landscape architect working on the project. According to the reverend, the columbarium will be hidden from view with a wall, shrubbery and trees.

Wise said the church is not operating this as a business, but rather simply a convenience for church members.

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