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Perl Funeral Homes plans east Medford crematorium unit

Perl Funeral Homes is seeking to convert an existing storage unit into a crematorium near its Siskiyou Memorial Park mausoleum.

The project would require a conditional use permit because it is within a residential zone.

The city planning staff has endorsed the project, and the Planning Commission is expected to vote on the matter tonight, clearing the way for the upgrade.

The existing cremation unit in the mausoleum has been in operation since 1986 and can safely handle four bodies per day.

Perl, which has operated the cemetery off Siskiyou Boulevard in east Medford since 1932, handles services for as many as 500 people annually. Of those, 300 to 400 require cremation, said spokesperson Amy Beard.

"Over time, more and more people are using cremation," Beard said. "If you go back a few years, the burial and cremation numbers would be reversed."

There are 65 licensed crematories in Oregon, according to the state. While the new crematorium won't double the funeral home's capacity, it will enhance its overall efficiency.

In their findings, the planning staff said a new crematorium would use less energy, burn at a higher temperature and emit less carbon.

"We're not planning on running both units at the same time," Beard said. "The new one is intended to act as a replacement because the existing one is on the older side."

New cremation units typically cost close to $100,000, and larger units can cost considerably more. The 2,400-square-foot storage building to the south of the mausoleum was built four years ago for $84,191. The remodel would cost $10,949, according to the building permit application.

Sarah Sousa of the city planning staff said the site is well buffered and there won't be access to the building off Greenwood Street on the south side of the cemetery.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.