The request involved allowing a mortuary in a residential
district to display and sell tombstones in an outdoor setting.
The city of Lincoln currently has an ordinance that allows
mortuaries to do business in residential districts, but the
definition of doing business does not specify the sale of such
The request came to the city though the Lincoln Planning Commission
after a request from Don Peasley, the owner of Peasley Funeral Homes
and Peasley Memorials. Peasley had asked to be able to establish an
outdoor display area for his monument business at his funeral home.
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.
The planning commission had been split on their decision, but
ultimately agreed to recommend the approval of the request with
certain conditions. They had specified that Peasley would have to
shield the monument display from street view using dense evergreen
shrubbery. They had also voiced a displeasure with the fact that the
monument display currently exists in the front lawn of the funeral
home, and had hoped that a better location could be found.
This was presented to the council several weeks ago. On May 5, the
council voted on the issue and it failed. However, at last week’s
workshop Mayor Keith Snyder and city code officer John Lebegue
indicated that there would need to be a new vote taken. The reason
for the new vote was that the tombstone issue had been combined with
two other minor code changes. Because the motion failed based on the
tombstones, the other two minor issues failed also.
Snyder indicated that the motion would be broken into parts so that
a fair vote could be held on all the changes requested.
Monday evening, the agenda included a request for a new motion
concerning the tombstones. Michelle Bauer made the motion with Ton
O’Donohue offering the second.
During discussion, Jonie Tibbs was the first to speak. She told the
council Peasley’s is in her ward, and she had heard from
constituents that they did not want burial monuments on display in
She said there was also the increased truck traffic and noise to
consider. She noted that large trucks already come to the
establishment to deliver caskets, but now there will be even more
truck traffic as monuments are delivered as well.
She noted that the funeral home is located in one of the city’s
historical regions and the roads are of brick construction. She said
she didn’t think the increased truck traffic would be good.
In addition, she returned to an argument from last Tuesday, saying
the residents in the area did not want to spend their time staring
at monuments. She ended saying, “Their homes are their castles. So I
have to vote “no” for my constituents.”
Marty Neitzel also said she would be voting no. She said she was
doing so because of the people who have contacted her saying they
didn’t want to see this.
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Michelle Bauer said she would still be voting yes to the
request. Referring to the pour license request that had just
failed, Bauer said this was a different situation. She noted
Peasley is the only funeral home in Lincoln that exists in a
residential district. She also said that this was different in
that if approved, Peasely will have to apply for the permit and
come back before the council. She said then the city would be
able to work with Peasley and determine how he would move
Earlier Tibbs had also mentioned that she felt this was opening
doors for other business in residential districts, something she
thought the city should avoid. City Treasurer Chuck Conzo
commented on this saying there are already numerous small
businesses in residential districts in Lincoln, and they cause
He noted that where he lives there are businesses, and because
they are “good neighbors” no one hardly notices they are there.
He said he was confident Peasley would also be a good neighbor.
He also noted the type of business Peasley is running does not
contribute to public nuisance. He said specifically that there
would be no undesirable people in the neighborhood as a result
of this change. He ended by saying that more revenue for local
businesses would equate to more revenue for the city, which is
something the city needs badly.
O’Donohue also addressed Tibbs comments saying he didn’t see how
this change would open any new doors. He said the change is
specific to mortuaries, and would have no bearing on anything
When the discussion concluded Snyder called for the vote. With
eight aldermen present, Bauer, Scott Cooper, Jeff Hoinacki, and
O’Donohue voted “yes.” Kathy Horn, Neitzel and Tibbs voted “No,”
and Melody Anderson chose to abstain from the vote.
When the motion failed on May 5, the aldermen voting yes had
included Horn. At that time, she and Scott Cooper had both
hesitated for quite some time before lending their support, an
indication that they were not completely in favor.
This week Horn changed her vote to “No,” and with Anderson
abstaining, the vote still came in with less than 50 percent of
the elected officials in favor, therefore the motion failed once
After the meeting, Anderson said she chose to abstain from the
vote because of a professional relationship she has with Peasley.
Monday night’s decision will have no affect on Peasely's ability
to offer funeral services to the community. That portion of his
business would not be effected by the council decision.
Regarding the monument business, Tuesday afternoon Peasely said that
right now he doesn't know what he will do with that portion of the
business. He wants to discuss this further with the city zoning
authorities and see if there is another option he can pursue that
will allow him to keep the monuments at the funeral home.
[By NILA SMITH]