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Cemetery proposal in Muskego haunted by early concerns

Planners want more information before city proceeds

June 11, 2012

Muskego - Among other issues, members of the Muskego Plan Commission want to know how would neighbors feel if a cemetery was built near their homes.

There are other issues - including how a cemetery proposed for 17 acres at W14105 Tess Corners Drive fits in with state standards - that commissioners considered this week as they took a preliminary look at the proposal.

But Plan Commission member Chris Buckmaster hopes the prospective developer, Mark Kosobucki and Kosobucki Bros., actively seeks neighborhood input up front, before proceeding with plans for a cemetery that would accommodate 3,200 burial sites.

Gauging public's reaction

"They need to engage (neighbors)," Buckmaster said.

That neighborhood exchange should happen long before the eventual public hearing, he said, to avoid the possibility of dissension late in the approval process of the project, he said.

"I've been there so many times," Buckmaster said, with developers who wait until the end to ask neighbors how they feel.

In addition to the burial plots, the cemetery could include seven outdoor mausoleums, an indoor mausoleum, a pond with a sitting park, walking trails, a reception area, offices, a community room, two chapels, a crematorium and a pet burial section.

There was at least some early support for the prospect.

Patrick Murphy, the grandson of the late owners of the former Parkside Nursery in Muskego, told the Plan Commission the family hopes the city will approve the cemetery proposal because that would preserve much of the natural beauty of the site.

Detailed questions

Aside from neighborhood concerns, commissioners also began delving into other necessities and uncertainties tied to the proposal.

The land would need to be rezoned. It is currently residential and would need to become institutional to accommodate a cemetery. The 2020 Comprehensive Plan that envisioned homes there would have to be changed, as well.

Buckmaster, who was chairman of the two-year effort to develop the 2020 plan, said the first thing the developer needs to show is why a cemetery is the best use of the land instead of homes. He noted that a great deal of time and effort were put into the 2020 plan to make it reflect the needs and desires of Muskego.

Officials noted the cemetery would be too small by state standards, which call for a minimum of 20 acres. But an analysis by Muskego planners indicated that state law says the Common Council could allow smaller cemeteries.

Long-term maintenance could become an issue. Jeff Muenkel, community development director, said maintenance should be taken care of through a fund set up under state requirements. But the city would have to double check that funding to ensure the money won't dry up as it has for other cemeteries after they have filled up, he added.

The cemetery would be fenced in, with a gate that would be closed at night, but commissioners wanted to know about the amount of lighting that would be installed.

The possibility of a high water table, due to the fact that wetlands are on part of the tract, is of particular concern for the land's use as a cemetery. The developer has yet to complete soil borings that will answer that question.

Still another concern is whether the Tess Corners Volunteer Fire Department could manage if a funeral cortege was on Tess Corners Drive when the volunteers are called out. Tess Corners is the main artery from Janesville Road where the fire station is to Woods Road.

The commission invited the developer to come back with a formal application after those and other questions about state requirements and changes needed on the local level were detailed .

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