Funeral home plans to open Elgin's first crematorium
Funeral home wants to meet rising demand
Increasing demand for cremation services has led a longtime family-owned funeral home in Elgin to want to open the city's first crematorium.
Dan Symonds, owner of Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, said he and his wife plan to open the crematorium at 1330 Crispin Dr. in an industrial area on the southwest side. Symonds said he's in negotiations to purchase two units in the building and eventually plans to own three units. The crematorium would be called Fox Valley Cremation Services.
The city council as a committee of the whole gave a preliminary OK to the plan last month, including a zoning change to allow crematoriums in industrial areas. Final approval is expected at the next meeting Dec. 19. Symonds said he hopes to open before March, once a current tenant moves out.
Symonds said he has operated a crematorium in Lake Villa for about 15 years, but due to the distance, he uses a crematorium in East Dundee to serve his Elgin-area clients. Cremation services constitute about half his funeral home business, he said.
"My estimation is that probably it will be 70 percent cremation in the next 10-15 years," he said. "Just in the last 15 to 20 years it's gone from probably 10 percent all the way up to 50 percent."
People are turning to cremation because of the rising costs of funerals and cemeteries, and there is a trend among millennials to move away from traditional burial and opt for cremation, he said. Cremation also is preferred by some cultures and religions, he said.
Building owner Chuck Lucchese said the Crispin Drive location is well-suited to a crematorium. "It's not in a public location. It's more of a park setting, a quiet, private setting -- as it should be."
A few of his 16 tenants initially were upset at the thought of a crematorium next door but now are OK with it, Lucchese said.
"Since the (council's) approval, they all called me and said they no longer feel that way," he said. "I think they realize it's not going to be an obstruction. It's not going to create smoke or smell, or anything that is going to injure what they are using."
Symonds said some people worry about the unknown; others are uncomfortable at the thought of having dead people next door.
"My plan is to be low-key," he said. "I am hoping in time they won't realize I am there."
The Elgin crematorium won't hold formal memorial services, but small groups of family and friends will be able to be present at the beginning of the process. The final details regarding maximum occupancy will be part of the conditional use permit to be approved by the city council.
Crematoriums require a business license from the state comptroller officer and a permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which Symonds said he'll obtain.