Columbarium is a word some Tallmadge residents have heard a lot recently, and they may be hearing it more.
The First Congregational Church of Tallmadge wants to have a columbarium, a structure where cremated human remains are kept, on its property as part of a planned memorial garden on its Heritage Drive grounds. More people these days are choosing to cremate departed family members instead of burying them, and the church is hoping to provide an option for its grieving congregants who would prefer their loved ones' remains be at their place of worship.
The church is in a residential area, so a conditional zoning permit needs to be OK'd for the proposal to become reality. Although the city's planning and zoning commission voted earlier this month to recommend that the church's permit application be rejected, we're glad to see that Mayor Dave Kline is going to form a committee to possibly establish official standards and requirements for columbariums in the city. The commission's decision is understandable; as has been said, First Congregational's request is uncharted territory for the city. And quite a few folks who live near the church have publicly objected to the plan. Questions of possible property devaluation have been raised, and it's important that city officials take the concerns of the church's neighbors into account; their questions should be looked into and considered during this process.
The church has withdrawn its request for the permit for the moment but may return and resubmit it once the city's stance on such requests is more solid. It's becoming much more common for churches to have columbariums, and as First Congregational's senior pastor The. Rev. John Schluep pointed out, Tallmadge has a lot of churches. There could very well be more such requests before city officials in the future. So looking into how to handle and consider those requests is a good step forward on the part of the mayor and city officials.