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Gainesville-based funeral home looking to operate at Braselton wedding venue
Weddings and other special events are held at the Braselton-Stover House, which was built by founders of the town. Memorial Park Funeral Homes and Cemeteries owner Jack Frost is asking the property be rezoned to allow his business to operate at the location. - photo by LeAnne Akin

A Gainesville funeral home owner is asking for a rezoning in Braselton to allow his business to operate in the popular special events venue, the Braselton-Stover House.

Memorial Park Funeral Homes and Cemeteries owner Jack Frost is asking the property be rezoned to general commercial from residential.

The proposition is not sitting well with some members of the community, including some who are uncertain if their family celebrations and community events already booked for the Braselton-Stover House would be comfortable for guests if a funeral home sign is standing out front.

Weddings and other special events are held at the house, which was built by founders of the town. Marvin and Mary Stover acquired the 2-acre parcel in 2000, and a banquet hall was constructed in 2008.

The Stovers have been attempting to market the property as they move into full retirement but have not been successful in securing a buyer for the special events venue, which their daughter-in-law had been managing. The addition of a new manager has provided a transition time with successful event booking.

Winder attorney John Stell, who is representing Frost on the application, noted in a letter to the planning commission that the property was already operating as a special events venue under a special use permit and Frost had recently been approved to develop a cemetery nearby.

“The operation of the main house as a funeral home will be a typical use in small downtown areas where older homes are often utilized as funeral homes,” said Stell, who also contends that property does not have reasonable economic use as residential, explaining why it has been in commercial use for several years.

Stell contends the proposal would not present any “excessive or burdensome use of existing streets, transportation facilities, utilities or schools.”

Denial of the request would be a violation of the property owner’s constitutional rights, according to Stell.

Related to the council’s previous approval of construction of a new funeral home adjacent to the planned cemetery, Town Manager Jennifer Dees responded to a question at an April 13 Friends of the Braselton-West Jackson Library meeting by saying Frost preferred the location of the Braselton-Stover House for the funeral home.

Contacted for further comment, Stell was in court on Friday and unable to respond. A message left at Memorial Park Funeral Home for Frost or company president Kevin Wetzel had not been returned by deadline.

The Braselton Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 25 at the Braselton Police & Municipal Court Building, 5040 Ga. 53, to consider the zoning request. The Braselton City Council will consider the board’s recommendation in a 7 p.m. meeting May 5.

Last March, Frost was granted rezoning and variances to allow for a construction of a cemetery and state-of-the-art funeral home on a 16.29-acre parcel of land at one of Braselton’s gateways at Broadway Avenue and Jesse Cronic Road adjacent to Westview Cemetery, the final resting place for members of the Braselton family. The council approval came although the planning commission had recommended denial.

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