A private company's plan to put the property of a vacating church congregation to use as a funeral home will get another hearing soon and will likely go forward – if not without a little opposition.
The owners of Unity West Church, at 4750 N. Mayfair Rd., want to sell their building and property to Church and Chapel, which offers funeral and funeral planning services at locations throughout the metro area.
The two entities, one non-profit and the other for-profit, came before the Wauwatosa Plan Commission together in June to ask for the changeover.
The sticky wicket was that as a church, Unity West had been allowed to build in a AAA Residential-zoned neighborhood, and so Church and Chapel would need both a new conditional use permit and a zoning amendment.
Initially, when word got around, some feathers were ruffled. But city planner Tamara Szudy made it clear from the introduction of the request, on June 11, that Church and Chapel would not be allowed to perform any embalming, cremation or other preparatory functions at the site – only funerals.
One neighbor was not placated. Acquanitta Patterson, whose property is at the rear of the property on Parkside Drive, did not want a business there, and especially not that type of business.
She told city planners she was concerned about bodies being left in the facility overnight, as well as about chemicals that might be used and pests being attracted to the building.
Nevertheless, the commissioners were satisfied enough with the plan to recommend both the zoning change and conditional use on 6-0 votes.
WauwatosaNOW, in a story published Thursday, reported that the sale of the church is important to the dwindling congregation of Unity West as it seeks to leave a property it can no longer afford to keep up.
"We have not been the best stewards of the property over the past few years," Unity board President Russ Gnant told a NOW reporter.
The city stands to gain, of course, as the property would go from property tax-exempt to taxable status.
To minimize impacts on the neighbors, city planners recommended, and the Plan Commission agreed, to limit service hours to between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.
The proposal goes next to the Community Development Committee, which meets July 31.