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Mount Kisco Trustees Ban Crematoriums

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Despite a lawsuit threat, the Mount Kisco Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously on June 13 to ban crematoriums.

Currently, there are no crematoriums in the village, but Oakwood Cemetery has plans for one on its Lexington Avenue properties. Members of the cemetery board told the trustees during an April public hearing that a crematorium was needed to keep the cemetery financially solvent. There is only one other crematorium in Westchester County.

The trustees amended the zoning ordinance to change the definition of cemetery to enact the ban on crematoriums.

Moments after the trustees voted to ban crematoriums, Timothy Griffin, an attorney representing the nonprofit cemetery, addressed the potential for legal action against the village. “It’s a decision for the board to make,” Griffin said. “No decision has been made.”

 At the April public hearing Griffin said only the state had the right to prohibit crematoriums, not municipalities.

  Mayor Michael Cindrich read the zoning text amendments prior to the vote. The new definition of cemetery in the zoning code states that it s “property used for the interring of the dead. This use shall not include facilities for cremation.”

“Mount Kisco’s cemeteries have historically been ‘rural cemeteries’ comprised of sites with limited activity and large expanses of open space,” Cindrich said. “The operating life of a cemetery is Mount Kisco is finite in nature. Cemeteries are for the interment of the dead to the point when all available plots are occupied. Thereafter, the role of the cemetery shifts to maintaining the plots and land in such a way to create a space for quite reflection and contemplation on the nature of life and death.”

Cindrich noted that cemeteries are in Preservation Districts, which are “intended to preserve natural resources, scenic beauty and other land and community resources whose retention is necessary for the continued maintenance of the quality of the environment.” The PD district is not intended for development, Cindrich said.

 The mayor said residents can use the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, which is 18 miles away from Mount Kisco if they wanted a crematorium.

 “To me it’s clear,” Cindrich said. “A cemetery is a cemetery and a crematorium is a crematorium.”

  “I think this is just further clarification of existing code,” Trustee Anthony Markus said.

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