Two weeks ago with only six members of the council present for
voting, the group voted on a motion that combined three ordinance
changes into one. Included in those changes were matters that
pertained to the building of a horse stable for residential use
inside city limits, changes to rules regarding construction of
drive-thru businesses, and allowance for mortuaries to sell
tombstones from an outdoor display in a residential district.
The first two changes were insignificant. City building and safety
officer John Lebegue explained that the firm the city uses for
recording ordinances had advised him that the ordinances had been
placed in the wrong location in city code.
It would be only a minor change, relocating the two ordinances
within the cityís code book, and had nothing to do with the language
or rules of the two ordinances. However, because it was technically
a change, the council had to approve it before the firm; Sterling
Codifiers, could correct the issue.
During the last vote, these two portions of the motion drew very
little attention from the council. But the third portion became a
matter of much discussion.
The third change to the ordinance, if passed would have added a
special use permit to city code pertaining to mortuaries. The new
permit would have allowed for the display and sale of tombstones at
The request was first brought to the city plan commission by Don
Peasley, owner of Peasley Funeral Homes and Peasley Memorials.
Peasley has operated both businesses for several years in Lincoln.
For quite some time the tombstones were sold out of a different
location than that of the funeral home. However, recent events for
Peasley brought him to the decision to set up the tombstones on the
front lawn of the funeral home.
After the fact, it was discovered that as an owner of a funeral home
in a residential district, city code did not specifically allow
Peasley to place the stones on display. He was asked to go to the
plan commission and request that they recommend a change in the city
code. Once the plan commission did agree to recommend the change,
it was up to the city council to allow it.
Lebegue first brought this topic to the council at the Tuesday,
April 29 meeting. He said the plan commission had expressed that if
allowed, the monuments should be shielded from street view and they
were not keen on having them on display in a front yard.
As this was being discussed last week, there were council members
who objected to the idea of having the tombstones out in the open in
a residential community. Alderman Jonie Tibbs specifically said the
neighbors didnít want to sit out on their front porches and be
looking at tombstones.
However, it was noted that the plan commission had stipulated that
the monuments needed to be shielded from street view and that
Peasley was prepared to plant dense, ever-green shrubbery around the
display to hide it from street view.
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The cityís newest alderman, Scott Cooper expressed he was
disturbed that the matter had been handled in reverse order to
what it should have been. He said Peasley put up the display
then came to the city to get permission, when he should have
gotten the permission, then placed the display.
On the other side of that argument, Mayor Keith Snyder pointed out
the city has no ordinance that prohibits the sale of monuments, and
it does have an ordinance allowing mortuaries to do business in
residential districts. He said one could consider that selling
tombstones is a part of Peasleyís business and therefore
Because the vote being taken was on a change of ordinance, the city
rules state that the majority of elected aldermen, not the majority
present for the vote, have to approve. The magic number then was
five 'yes' votes in order to pass. With six aldermen present, the
motion received only four ayes, and two nays; therefore failed.
Last Tuesday evening, it was explained there would be new votes
taken on the three changes to city code. The changes recommended by
Sterling Codifiers will be one motion and the tombstone issue will
be a separate motion.
Tibbs said she had felt all along these should have been broken out
and was glad to see that, but she took exception to voting on the
tombstone ordinance again. She said that had already been voted on
and failed, so she didnít see that particular part of the ordinance
needed a new vote.
At the May 5th meeting Jeff Hoinacki and Melody Anderson
were both absent. On Tuesday Hoinacki was back and is expected to
be back tonight. Tibbs noted the vote would change by numbers
because there would be at least one more alderman present.
During discussion, Hoinacki did not indicate how he plans to vote on
the tombstone issue. If he votes to allow the special use, along
with previous four supporters from last week, the motion would pass
If the motion does pass. Peasley will then have to return to the
city plan commission and seek the permit. The plan commission may
or may not approve his request. If they do approve it, it will then
come again to the city council, who also may or may not approve the
[By NILA SMITH]