FARMINGTON — Farmington's City Council is giving a special use permit for a crematorium in east Farmington a second look after complaints from neighbors.
The crematorium, which is operated by Serenity Properties, LLC, was approved in 2012 and received a building permit in July 2013. Since December, it has been operating at 6917 E. Main St., next to Memory Gardens of Farmington.
The council voted Tuesday to send the case to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review. The vote was three in favor and one opposed. The commission will review the crematorium during its meeting either on March 27 or April 10.
Since the crematorium opened in December, residents on nearby Drinen Lane have complained to the city about smoke, noise, traffic and odor.
Patricia Simpson, an attorney for Serenity Properties, said when the crematorium first opened, the operator was unfamiliar with the crematory system, which caused an unusual amount of emissions. She said the operator has since become familiar with the system, and there have not been problems since.
However, after the Tuesday's city council meeting, Russell Hodges and his wife, Lora, said they have had problems with emissions recently.
The Hodges, who live on Drinen Lane across the street from the crematorium, have an evaporative cooling system and are concerned the crematorium's system will bring emissions into their home during the summer.
After residents complained to the city, the zoning inspector and other officials were sent to the property in January to investigate.
Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts asked city attorney Jay Burnham if the council had the authority to reconsider the special use permit.
Burnham said the council does, even though the unified development code doesn't have a specific provision about reconsideration or revocation of a special use permit.
Burnham cited the Cerrillos Gravel v. Santa Fe County case, which looked at whether or not Santa Fe County could revoke a mining permit. The mining company was given 24 conditions to meet in the permit. When the company didn't meet those conditions, the county decided to revoke the permit, Burnham told the council. He quoted the case, saying, "We agree that the power to revoke a permit is necessarily implied in the power to approve a permit."
However, Simpson said the council does not have the authority to revoke or reconsider the special use permit.
She agreed with Burnham that the Cerrillos Gravel case said the power to revoke was implied in the power to approve. But, she said, the case stipulated that power has to be backed up by a lawfully adopted ordinance.
"The city of Farmington does not currently have that lawfully adopted ordinance," she said.
Councilor Dan Darnell asked if the city could pass an ordinance allowing it to revoke or reconsider special use permits and then review the crematorium.
Burnham said the council could.