2021 | Gaithersburg

Gaithersburg approves limits on crematoria

They can’t be within 500 feet of a residential property

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The Gaithersburg City Council has approved new limits on where cremation operations may be built in the city last week. The council passed the measure 4-1.

Under the new ordinance, crematoria will no longer be permitted by right in the city. Other guidelines include:

  • No cremation services within 500 feet of a property with a residential use
  • Funeral homes may offer cremation services as a conditional use in select commercial zones, industrial zones and mixed use zones, where not otherwise prohibited
  • Stand-alone cremation services are allowed in two industrial zones, where not otherwise prohibited

For a crematorium to be approved as a conditional use, the Planning Commission would issue a recommendation, then the City Council would approve a permit.

The crematorium can’t be “incompatible or inharmonious” with the neighborhood, be “detrimental” to the surrounding area, lead to an unsafe environment or violate the city code.

The city took up the issue of regulations on crematoria this year after the council unanimously rejected an application in October 2020 by DeVol Funeral Home on Deer Park Drive to convert a single-family home into a crematorium.

Nearby residents opposed the crematorium due to environmental and economic concerns. City officials agreed.

During last week’s meeting, Council Members Ryan Spiegel and Robert Wu raised the question of whether 500 feet is the right minimum distance from a residential property.

Wu voted in favor of the measure along with fellow council members Mike Sesma, Laurie-Anne Sayles and Neil Harris. Spiegel was the lone dissenting vote.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com