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Neighbors upset over plans for funeral home at cemetery
By Sheila Ahern | Daily Herald Staff

Some residents are concerned about plans for a funeral home in the now wooded area of Memory Gardens near Euclid and Waterman avenues in Arlington Heights. Lauterburg & Oehler, now at 2000 E. Northwest Highway, wants to move to the site.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Jim Murray, manager of Lauterburg & Oehler, said it would be too expensive and disruptive to fix up their current building at 2000 E. Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Lauterburg & Oehler funeral home wants to move from its current located at 2000 E. Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights to the northwest corner of Memory Gardens cemetery.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

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Published: 2/28/200 12:01 AM

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People drive by a cemetery and think maybe it's a park or a forest preserve.

But there's no hiding what goes on inside a funeral home, said Jim Grossman.

"I would be facing a constant reminder of death," he said. "I would have a front-row seat. It's a bit of a turn off."

Grossman's issue is with the owner of Lauterburg & Oehler, 2000 E. Northwest Highway, who wants to move the business to the northwest corner of Memory Gardens, a 78-acre cemetery located along Waterman Avenue and Miner Street in Arlington Heights.

"I'm dead set against a business that wants to come into a single-family neighborhood," said Grossman, who lives in the 500 block of North Waterman Avenue. "They can't change the rules because they have a dilapidated funeral home they don't want to fix up."

Jim Murray manages the funeral home and said it would make financial sense to build a new building instead of trying remodel their current home on Northwest Highway.

"We've been here since 1958 and the cost and time to upgrade that facility would be too disruptive to our service," Murray said. "Through the years, we've been good neighbors and we will continue to be good neighbors. Given the current state of our building, we need a new facility to better serve our families."

The proposed one-story funeral home would be built in two phases at the southeast corner of Euclid and Waterman avenues, according to a village plan report. The first phase would be a 10,260-square-foot building and a 102-stall parking lot. The building would have three staterooms, two lounges, a preparation area and an office. The second phase would include a fourth stateroom and a garage.

If the Arlington Heights village board approves Lauterburg & Oehler's request for a land-use variation, the project could break ground in May, Murray said.

Grossman has lived on Waterman Avenue for 12 years. He worries that overflow traffic from the funeral home would end up clogging his narrow street. He also worries a funeral home would hurt his ability sell his home.

"I think there is a smaller subset of people who would live across the street from a funeral home," Grossman said.

Murray hosted a neighborhood meeting on Feb 18 and about 30 to 40 neighbors showed up. A few expressed concerns that the project would bring too much traffic and cause flooding problems, he said.

Neither are true, Murray said.

"Our consultant explained the impact the funeral home would have on traffic would be negligible," he said.

Lauterburg and Oehler currently serves about 190 families a year.

Dave Traxler, who also lives on North Waterman Avenue, said he is undecided about the funeral home's plans. He looked up the site on Google Earth and decided there was probably enough room for a new building on the property.

"I'd like to see something done over there and this is better then leaving it the way it is," said Traxler, who believes the woods are unkempt and overgrown. "It looks like the building would be set back 50 feet from either street. That's not too bad."

The funeral home's plan is tentatively slated to go before the plan commission on March 25. The project will need to get final approval from the Arlington Heights Village Board.