Residents promptly reject crematorium plan

MERRIMACK – A local funeral home owner’s efforts to build a crematorium ended before it really began Thursday night.

George A. Rivet Funeral Home had asked the town’s approval to build a crematorium at 22 Continental Blvd.

Just as soon as the proposal came up, opposition to the proposed facility was starting to mount.

Gary Petas, whose house on Tallant Road neighbors 22 Continental Blvd, started circulating a petition against the crematorium before Memorial Day weekend calling for the land to be a buffer zone and “non-buildable.”

“It’s very distasteful, and all my neighbors and residents that live here agree,” Petas said.

Residents are concerned the crematorium – where human remains are incinerated – will drop their property values and be an “eyesore.”

“…The thought of having our children and grandchildren having a barbecue next to a crematorium is distasteful and not an appropriate site at all,” the petition reads.

Neighbors are also concerned about emissions and wonder about the effect on the town’s nearby pump station.

Funeral home attorney Gregory Michael appeared briefly before the town’s zoning board of adjustment Thursday and withdrew the application.

Owner Mark Rivet was set to request a zoning variance because the crematorium is not listed as an allowed use in any zoning district.

Michael declined to comment following the meeting.

Zoning documents show Rivet wants, or wanted, to build a 2,700-square-foot facility on a lot located in both an industrial and residential area of town, with the option of doubling the facilities in the future.

The entire crematorium would have fallen in the industrial zone, with a small part of the driveway falling into the residential zone, according to the plans.

A message left for Rivet on Thursday afternoon was not returned.

Planning documents state that a crematorium would be an appropriate use in the location because it is a light industrial use and will not diminish adjacent property values, and that as a necessary service to the general public, it will “improve the value and tax base of a previously undeveloped parcel.”

“Any activity on this lot is minor, involving the coming and going of vehicles to the site,” documents stated.

“Abutters will not be aware of any activity within the facility itself.”

Karen Lovett can be reached at 594-6402 or Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or