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Friday, May 22, 2009

 

Cemeteries are the newest wedding sites

By Lisa Sink of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: May. 21, 2009

 



Brookfield - Don't start planning that cemetery wedding reception just yet.

A Brookfield city panel on Thursday tabled a request by Wisconsin Memorial Park to rent its chapels and Family Center reception hall for non-funeral related events, including wedding receptions, baptisms, private parties, business events and training seminars.

The three-member Plan Review Board, led by Mayor Jeff Speaker, said city ordinances do not allow such expanded use of the reception hall.

Park officials were told they either would have to better demonstrate that such wider use was a central part of their own or modern-cemetery operations, or the city would have to change its ordinances to allow such use by cemeteries.

Board members did not appear convinced of the former, nor necessarily willing to do the latter. But they tabled the request, urging Wisconsin Memorial Park to work with city staff for possible solutions.

Ald. Mark Nelson said he understood cemetery uses can change. But he worried about a "slippery slope," where the grounds would be rented for inappropriate uses.

"Pretty soon you have polka bands and kegs of beer."

He also said allowing people who have relatives buried there to rent the Family Center for wedding receptions "wouldn't be appropriate."

Nelson did praise the cemetery at 13235 W. Capitol Drive for being a "good community citizen and a good neighbor."

He cited its events on Memorial Day, help with the Moving Wall - a Vietnam War memorial - when it visited Brookfield, and benefits for local charities.

The board did, however, grant the cemetery a temporary use permit to hold a walk-a-thon charity benefit there June 22.

The permit allows the cemetery to have food and live entertainment in the Family Center for the more than 200 expected to attend the benefit for Hebron House of Hospitality, which operates several homeless shelters.

Kelly Coleman-Kohorn, cemetery director of operations, said after the meeting she was "a little disappointed" but hoped a compromise could be reached.


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