Fayetteville’s Mayor and City Council listen as David Mowell explains the need for a crematorium at Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home’s Fayetteville location. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

Completing a process that included years of work and had recently garnered much debate, Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home will be allowed to build a crematorium on their property on North Jeff Davis Dr. in Fayetteville following a unanimous city council vote to approve their Special Exception request.

“We believe that having an on-site crematory will better allow us to meet the needs of the families that we serve,” said David Mowell, noting that more than 40 percent of the over 600 families they served last year between their Fayetteville and Peachtree City locations chose cremation with that number likely to grow. “A crematory will allow families a dignified place to come for a final farewell.”

Under current ordinances, Fayetteville would only allow a crematory in an area zoned for industrial use.

“We don’t like the thought of someone having to go to an industrial park to say goodbye to a loved one while someone is fixing a transmission or working on a furnace,” said Mowell.

The decision to pursue a crematorium on-site rather than continuing to work with a third party came with great thought, said Mowell.

“This is something we’ve worked on for many years. It’s not something we take lightly,” he said. “We’ve prayed over it. We’ve had a lot of staff meetings over it. We’ve spoken to a lot of experts about the process.”

He assured that their business, which has been a valued part of the community since 1963, would do nothing to tarnish their reputation.

“What we want to have is a facility at the funeral home on-site where people can come together and gather, reflect, celebrate, and say goodbye to their loved ones,” he said. “My hope here is that anyone would see our funeral home and our crematory and know that their family will be taken care of with the full force of our staff to take care of them in a dignified and respectful manner.”

Director of Community Development Jahnee Prince presented the appeal for the Special Exception with a staff recommendation for approval. Prince detailed the extensive research done on crematoriums from state law to examination of potential pollutants and meetings with other municipalities with crematoriums. In each locale, including Peachtree City, none had received any complaints.

“In general, they said if you didn’t know it was there, you probably wouldn’t know it was there,” said Prince.

Approval came along with five conditions: Only one retort (the chamber used in cremation) will be allowed, the retort will only be operated between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, should the business ever be sold the crematorium will not be allowed as a standalone business, the building housing the retort will meet all Main Street architectural standards, and, at the insistence of Council Person Kathaleen Brewer, area soil will be tested every six months for five years to ensure no increase in Mercury levels.

A number of residents expressed their support for the Mowell family and their efforts, saying they always think of the community first.

“Everything they’ve done is of good quality and of high moral value,” said one supporter.

There was opposition from some neighborhood residents, citing a number of concerns, including potential Mercury contamination from incinerating dental implants and a lack of EPA regulation.

Mowell sought to address any concerns, assuring there would be no smoke, ash, debris, smell, or noise complaints from the crematorium. In regards to Mercury, he noted that studies have shown that more Mercury is released from breaking and disposing of a household lightbulb than would be released by cremation.

“I can assure that the technology and equipment in place today is made to protect the environment and the community better than ever before,” said Mowell.

“We’re putting a 50-year reputation on the line to do this,” he said, noting that he personally has two sons working there. “This is something we would never consider doing if we thought it would be in any way harmful to a community we are very invested in.”