Madison’s Board of Zoning Appeals approved a conditional use permit that will help clear the way for an animal crematorium to be located on Madison’s hilltop.

Local veterinarian Jamie Geyman and her husband, Joseph Geyman, plan to open the facility in a pole barn located at 1848 East 400 North, a property zoned agricultural, to service not only customers of her North Madison Veterinary Clinic, but other veterinarians and animal owners who currently must transport deceased pets and other animals to Columbus, Clarksville or further for cremation.

She said the disposal crematory they are purchasing for the site will be capable of handling animals up to 1,000 pounds but that the plan is to limit the size to under 500 pounds and that the bulk of the animals to be serviced will involve family pets like dogs and cats.

Jamie Geyman said the cremation chamber is a top of the line unit that does the job quickly and efficiently with very little smoke and no odor. She added that providing such a place locally will take away some of the delay and burden local residents face when coping with the loss of a pet.

Board member Rick Ferris said he’s had a lot of experience with animal cremations in his line of work and units like the Geymans plan to operate are “very efficient in what they do” and “people won’t even know what’s going on in that pole barn.”

Board members, noting the facility will serve a need locally and perhaps help bring closure to families who have lost pets, approved the application for a one-year period. Board member Nancy Burkhardt was absent from the meeting but Ferris, Bob Waller and Scott Baldwin all voiced support for the facility before voting 3-0.

“This is a service that we can use here and possible help a family deal with the loss a beloved pet,” said Waller.

However, the board members also cautioned that additional approvals may be needed for the site to actually operate

“We can approve it but if the IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) steps in and says ‘no’ it won’t matter what we say,” said Baldwin.

The Geymans said without approval of the conditional use permit, there would be no point pursuing other approvals to locate at the site and they will now seek whatever permits or authorizations are appropriate.

Jamie Geyman said so far she’s found very little information available on animal cremation regulations or the permit process to operate a crematory. She said it looks to be a fairly unregulated process but as a veterinarian she wants to make sure remains are handled properly.

“We looked around a lot of places and there wasn’t any information about the process,” Jaime Geyman said. “We finally talked to BOAH (Indiana State Board of Animal Health) and they had a one page application for transporting dead animals and that was it.”