Mark Taylor
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The Gardner City Council approved a re-zoning request for Bruce Funeral Home on June 18.
The re-zoning includes the removal of two existing single residences and the addition of a 54-space parking lot and a three-car garage on Park Street.
The approval is subject to three conditions recommended by the planning commission involving landscaping and elevation issues.
Six of seven planning commissioners agreed to forward the re-zoning request and preliminary development plan to the city council for approval.
Commissioner Andy Copeland voted against approving the request.
Five persons who live near the funeral home spoke during the meeting.
Four of the residents opposed the re-zoning and one spoke in support.
Cindy Weeks, a Park Street resident, expressed concern about traffic and the affect the garage and parking lot would have on the neighborhood.
Weeks said Park Street has a charm that is unique, with some of Gardner’s oldest homes.
“People drive down our street just to see our street,” she said.
Dianne Stevens, who also lives in the neighborhood, said she believes the expansion of parking spaces was excessive.
The new plan includes 54 parking spaces. City requirements call for a minium of 39 spaces for the amount of business the funeral home conducts.
“A lot of this size is excessive,” Stevens told the council.
Shirley VanArsdale, owner of thefuneral home, said she had 62 funerals and visitations last year.
Kipp Willnauer, who lives adjacent to the funeral home, said he supported the re-zoning.
“It certainly would enhance my neighborhood,” he said.
VanArsdale said she donated the houses on the existing lots to be moved.
She said the mover needs 90 days notice to relocate the houses.
The planning commission will fine-tune the development plan before making a final recommendation.
Councilman Chris Morrow said he trusted the planning commission’s advice to the council.
“If the planning commission sent it to us with a 6-1 vote, they worked it over pretty darn well,” he said. “At the end of the day, it meets (city) design standards, or close enough..They are pickier than we are.”