Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 24, 2015

TN Appeals Court Holds Decision that Construction of a Crematory was a Permitted Accessory Use for an Existing Funeral Home was not Arbitrary

Evergreen Services of Tennessee, LLC d/b/a Gentry–Griffey Funeral Home applied for, and was granted a building permit to add a crematory by the City of Knoxville Building Inspections and Plans Review Department. Several Fountain City residents (“Petitioners”) appealed the issuance of the permit to the City’s Board of Zoning Appeals, which voted unanimously to deny the appeal. Petitioners then appealed to the Knoxville City Council pursuant to Article VII, Section 6 of the Knoxville Zoning Code. The trial court found that the Knoxville City Council had not exceeded its jurisdiction, followed an unlawful procedure, acted illegally, arbitrarily, or fraudulently, or acted without material evidence to support its decision.

The petitioners first alleged that the City Council used an inappropriate standard of review. However, the meeting minutes reflected that the City Council considered the administrative record and additional evidence presented by the parties, numerous exhibits, environmental reports, newspaper articles, photographs, and allowed the parties additional time to present their arguments. Moreover, the discussion between the City Council members reflected that they considered the exhibits presented and that some even visited an area crematory to aid in the decision-making process. Accordingly, the court held that the required de novo review standard was met. The court then agreed with the trial court that there was material evidence in the record to support the conclusion that the construction of the requested crematory was customarily incidental to the funeral home industry, subordinate to and subservient to the funeral home at issue, and subordinate in area, extent, and purpose to the funeral home at issue. The judgment of the trial court was therefore affirmed.

Scott v City of Knoxville, 2015 WL 3545948 (TN App. 6/8/2015)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/scottopn.pdf


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