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The St. Tammany Parish Zoning Commission on Tuesday approved an amendment to an ordinance that would prevent crematoriums from being part of new funeral homes in the parish unless they are in specifically zoned public facilities districts.

The approval means the commission recommends that the St. Tammany Parish Council enact the amendment, but the council will have the final say.

Under the parish's current zoning law, any funeral home can include a crematorium. If the amendment is enacted, that will no longer be the case, unless the funeral home is on property zoned PF-1 Public Facilities District, the only zoning category that specifically allows crematoriums.

Commissioner Todd Richard said the change would give existing funeral homes with crematoriums located in highway commercial districts a competitive advantage over any new funeral homes built on property with that zoning.

In response, parish attorney Terry Hand said the change was prompted by complaints received when approval was sought for a funeral home and crematorium on commercial property near Slidell that was surrounded by residential neighborhoods.

“Do you really want a crematorium next to a residential neighborhood? That is the question,” Hand said.

After hearing Hand’s explanation, commissioners approved the amendment unanimously.

The commission also was scheduled to consider a major change to parish zoning ordinances that would regulate the location and operation of short term rentals. However, commissioners postponed action on that item because a considerable amount of additional language that had been added to the amendment had not been included in the version published on the commission’s agenda.

An updated version of the amendment will be included on the agenda for commission’s July 2 meeting when it will be taken up again.

In other action, commissioners approved revised plans for a 3.7-acre retail center being developed by John S. Bowers III on the east side of La. 21, south of Azalea Drive, south of Covington.

Completion of the development stalled while Bowers negotiated with parish planning staff over changes he wants to make to the project. Meanwhile, neighbors have repeatedly complained about the effect of the development on drainage, the damage or removal of a number of trees in a buffer zone between the development and the adjacent Flower Estates neighborhood, and the unsightly condition of the unfinished development.

Flower Estates Civic Association treasurer Deborah Hebert asked that Bowers’ request be postponed because a number of issues were still unresolved. In response, Bowers said that postponing the request would only cause further delays and promised to comply with all requirements outlined by the parish planning staff.

After nearly an hour of discussion, Bowers’ revised plans were approved.