CACHE COUNTY —The Cache County Planning Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday, June 7, to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) authorizing Rebound Unlimited DBA Heavenly Animals (<a href=”https://www.facebook.com/heavenlyanimals/”>Heavenly Animals</a>) to operate a pet crematorium service on private property located just outside Richmond City limits. The property is owned by business owners Angela Younker and William Rocco Mackin and was rezoned from A10 Agricultural to I Industrial in August 2016.
Several neighboring property owners, along with representative legal counsel, attended the public meeting yesterday in strong opposition to the CUP, citing 13 concerns about Heavenly Animals ranging from air quality and possible health hazards to the crematorium’s potential impact on traffic, future development of surrounding areas and property values. Tamara Pattinson, who lives within .1 mile of the building that will house the crematorium, said she and her neighbors approached the Planning Commission hoping for a delay in approval of the CUP that would allow for additional information to be gathered about how Heavenly Animals would be regulated and how undesired impacts on its neighbors might be mitigated.
After the Planning Commission’s 4-0 vote in favor of granting the CUP, Pattinson said she felt like her community’s concerns were unheard.
“It’s not a matter of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing,” she said. “We’ve clearly been told that the right hand doesn’t care what the left hand is doing, that health concerns for communities and neighboring properties and school children doesn’t matter because they’re within their legal rights. There is no reason for this to be pushed through. We are not harming anyone by asking them to just please take a moment, step back and further investigate.”
Karen Jenkins, office manager of Rebound Unlimited and Heavenly Animals, said she feels bad that the neighbors are displeased with the Planning Commission’s decision and invites them to do more research.
“I think a lot of it is just the not knowing,” Jenkins said. “They need to educate themselves on the actual process of the crematorium and realize how much safer it actually is. We have EPA findings, we have statistics. If you go on to the Division of Air Quality, it will show you that Big J’s, the fast food place down the road, actually puts off more emissions into the air than we will. A diesel truck actually puts out more particulates in a day than we put out in a year.”
Jenkins said Heavenly Animals provides cremation services for several hundred companion animals per year, with a 300 lb. weight limit per animal. She said the company meets all state and federal regulations for crematoriums and has operated successfully in Smithfield for 15 years.
“In that time, there’s never been an official complaint filed against them,” said Justin Lewis, Smithfield City’s recorder. “There’s never been any complaints about smell or noise or any other complaint for that matter. In fact, I would say the vast majority of the residents don’t know there’s a crematorium in this city. We would love to keep them here. They’ve been a great tenant, no complaints, pay everything on time. Anytime we have a business that’s never had a complaint, never had payment issues, never had any issues, we definitely don’t want to lose them.”
Lewis’ perspective doesn’t make Mark Cardall feel any better about Heavenly Animals relocating from Smithfield to do business near his home in Richmond.
“They passed it, and now we’re stuck with it,” he said of the Planning Commission’s vote to grant the CUP. “Who do we call when this business does not meet the requirements or policies or codes? It doesn’t protect us. Who’s going to come in and regulate this?”
Cache County Planner Angie Zetterquist said meeting minutes, audio and video are <a href=”https://www.cachecounty.org/pz/”>available online</a> for anyone who would like to learn more about the Heavenly Animals CUP, and an appeals process is in place should community members who oppose the Planning Commission’s decision seek reconsideration.