CMG file photo

MATTHEWS – Matthews Presbyterian Church has to go through the rezoning process to build a walled memorial garden on its property because the project will include a columbarium, which is a structure that stores urns. 

The church is trying to convince town leaders to add the definition of an “open wall columbarium” to the ordinance so that the structures can be exempt from 40-foot setback requirements. Urns would not be visible. 

Matthews United Methodist Church as well as Cross and Crown Lutheran Church have columbariums on their campuses. 

“We want to preserve the historic image of our church and this is one way to do it,” Scott Garner told commissioners during the Sept 13 public hearing. “The problem we have is we have a limited buildable area. This will allow us to use some of our setback space in a positive way that will enhance our image and make an attractive focal point, particularly for people who are walking by.”

John Purdie said the church has worked with columbarium designers and landscape architects for the garden, which will go in at the corner of West John and South Freemont streets.

“We want to be able to design a columbarium that will blend  in with our existing structures. which date back to the 1940s,” he said. 

Town leaders will vote on the proposal at a future meeting. 

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