Lawyers Road space approved for Gaskin Services
by Saja Hindi
Residents will notice a funeral home is now the newest addition to the leased space of First Choice Eye Care at 14651 W. Lawyers Road. The Stallings Town Council approved this amendment to the previously approved building last Monday. This is the second amendment the council has voted on, on this same property since its initial approval.
Gaskin Services, Ltd. will lease the space from owner Dr. Kevin Bingham for a funeral home that does not include a chapel or crematory but does include a visitation area.
Council members Harry Stokes and Wyatt Dunn fully disclosed at the beginning of the meeting that they and their families have known the applicant, Wayne Gaskin, and his family – his wife being a teacher– for years, but have no financial links to him or his business.
“I’m saddened that the state requirements for a funeral service are antiquated,” Gaskin said, but some aspects of the service are required by law, including having an embalming room, a room for viewing whether used or not and and office for record keeping.
He said a cremation room is required but will not be used.
“We use a facility in Charlotte,” he said. “We would just make cremation arrangements.”
He said there will also be a preparation room used as necessary at this location.
Council members Dunn and Paul Frost opposed the rezoning, citing the area’s location not being appropriate for this service.
But council member Stokes made a motion to approve the rezoning and it passed.
“I just think that in a town that needs business, we need to quit trying to run off busineses and find an opportunity when we have an opportunity for business to come to town, to come to town, especially when the person is already a tax paying citizen of the town,” Stokes said.
Some residents at Monday night’s town council meeting spoke in favor of Gaskin and his character and professionalism, such as Glenn Israel.
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Gaskin family for about 25 years now and it is time I’ve come to appreciate what he has done in our church. Being a staff member at our church, we’ve had many funerals done there in which he has done professionally, gone way beyond means what needs to be done but because of his character, the way he handles himself, he’s never done things any other way and I think this will be a great asset to our community to have him located to this location,” Israel said.
However, others expressed concerns about having a funeral home in that area. The council members also made clear that this decision is one that will affect the space, making funeral homes an accepted use of the space even after Gaskin’s business no longer is there.
Ron Carpenter who lives in the Steven Mills subdivision and whose property backs up the Lawyers Road parking lot, was one such resident.
“I believe that … a funeral service business does not fit in a residential area. I had our house appraised last summer and I was surprised at how low the house appraisals had dropped. I’m sure the addition of a funeral service business in the neighborhood won’t help that matter by increasing house values,” Carpenter said.
Todd Munsey, another resident, agreed.
“This is a long term zoning change for funeral services if it’s determined…We’re kind of opening Pandora’s box here by opening this up…I’m opposed against the change. I think a medical service building is something Mr. Bingham asked for and he received it and it should stay that way,” Munsey said.
Another concern several residents, including Michael Gilmore, brought up was the hazardous waste from embalming being dropped into sewers. While Gilmore said he’s not against it completely because it’s part of the cycle of life and it’s a business, he said he does not think the location is appropriate
“At a medical facility – my father is a physician – everything goes into a box at night and is taken away. His will not, it’s just going to go right into the sewers,” Gilmore said.
Several residents discussed the addition of a barrier between the funeral home and the neighborhood so that residents did not see “human remains,” a suggestion discussed at the planning board meeting but not included in the recommendations. The council voted in favor of this condition.
Other conditions included that the funeral services could use a maximum of 3,200 square feet and no person could be parked on site except when using the funeral services.