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    New crematory proposed at west edge of Champaign | Politics

    CHAMPAIGN — A local cremation service is asking county officials for a zoning change and variances to open a new crematory just outside the western edge of Champaign.

    The request, made by the owners of Evergreen Cremation Services of Champaign, will be taken up Thursday by the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

    The site of the new crematory would be an existing building at 314 Tiffany Court, west of Staley Road and north of Springfield Avenue, just outside city limits.

    Evergreen, which currently has its office at 702 Bloomington Road, has been in business since 2021 and is currently using crematories in Decatur and Danville. This would be the first facility of its own, according to co-owner Vincent Sims.

    Evergreen has been building its business in part by offering cremations for $995, about one-third of the price charged by some competitors, Sims said.

    “I’m just trying to help out folks who aren’t in a position to pay $3,000 or $3,500,” he said.

    A sale is pending on the Tiffany Court property, which was listed for $400,000.

    Sims said there is an existing 40-by-60-foot building on the property that would be used for the crematory, with some alterations.

    With the go-ahead from county officials, he said, the facility likely wouldn’t be up and running until after Jan. 1 depending on how long it would take for equipment to be shipped and installed.

    Specifically, Evergreen and its owners are asking the zoning board to sign off on a change from light industrial to agricultural zoning for the property. They’re also requesting a special-use permit under Ag-2 agricultural zoning and waivers in the minimum required acreage and setback for a crematory.

    That would mean allowing a lot area of 1.69 acres instead of the required 10 acres and a setback of 72 feet instead of the required 100 feet, according to county officials.

    Champaign County Planning and Zoning Director John Hall said he and his staff have several questions that likely won’t be answered until Thursday’s zoning board meeting. That includes what sort of environmental impacts there may be, such as how air quality may be affected, and what kind of wastewater comes from a crematory.

    “I have taken calls from neighbors who think that locating this in a rural area would be better,” Hall said.

    Sims, a licensed funeral director and embalmer, said in regard to the impact of a crematory on air quality, “everybody brings that up.”

    He has videos of several crematories and their smokestacks, he said, “and the pizza restaurants and steak restaurants have more coming out of their smokestacks than we do.”

    He also said there’s definitely a need for the crematory he wants to open.

    Nationally, the cremation rate in the U.S. was 59 percent last year, and it was projected to reach just over 65 percent by 2027, according to the Cremation Association of North America.

    If the zoning board signs off on Evergreen’s plans, the county board would have to approve the changes being sought. And because the property is located within a mile and a half of its limits, the city of Champaign has protest rights.

    Champaign city planner Kat Trotter said Evergreen’s plans have already been reviewed, and city officials won’t be expressing any concerns or comments about the plans to the county.

    The county Zoning Board of Appeals is set to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington St., U.



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