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Funeral home not recommended by Franklin Plan Commission

April 22, 2014

Franklin — The plan commission decided a funeral home may not be a suitable replacement for the city's old bowling alley during a meeting April 17.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of an application proposing to turn the former Root River Center bowling alley and banquet hall facility, located at 7220 W. Rawson Ave., into a funeral home for Milwaukee's Hmong population.

The Hmong, an Asian ethnic group, have special rituals for their funeral services, and the proposed funeral home would require 24-hour operation during weekends.

Franklin Planning Manager Joel Dietl said there were residential concerns that the funeral home's requirements did not fit in with the neighborhood.

"There was concern about a 24-hour operation … and that the applicant wanted to leave the building open for other uses, but couldn't say exactly what for," Dietl said.

The commission also wanted additional sidewalks and a rejuvenated exterior to the property, but the applicant, Lamont Thao, did not wish to abide by those conditions, Dietl said.

Alderman Dan Mayer, who oversees the district that the bowling alley is in, said the building has potential for better-suited purposes.

"I know the last thing we want in the city is another vacant building, but that does not mean we should jump at the first proposal that come along," Mayer said. "I think that a funeral home is not a good fit for this building. I firmly believe that something better will come along or maybe the building should be raised and a new development put in."

The commission's recommendation will be brought before the common council at a future meeting for a final decision.

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