Crematorium hearing delayed

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ST. THOMAS - Diana Brown learned last-minute about plans to add a crematorium in the Estate Thomas self-storage building that houses her dance studio, which employs four dance teachers and serves 75 students age 3 and older.

Monday, Brown said she was pleased that Davis Funeral Home postponed a hearing scheduled today for a permit application to operate the furnace at Fortress Self Storage Warehouse.

Davis Funeral Home founder and president Philip Davis submitted the application. He did not return phone calls from The Daily News on Monday.

"The hearing has been postponed indefinitely," said DPNR Environmental Engineer Vernill Roberts Jr. "From what I understand, he would like to get more information, so he can be prepared for the overwhelming response."

Davis' proposed crematorium was planned for Fortress' southernmost building, Roberts said.

"It would be occupying two of the storage units," Roberts said.

St. Thomas has no operating crematorium, and for years, residents wanting to cremate their deceased loved ones have had to do so in Puerto Rico.

The proposed crematorium would house a propane-fired chamber heated to at least 1,800 degrees.

Roberts said the proposed 30-ton unit met existing air pollution regulations.

"According to all regulations that we follow, that we researched, it would be a legal thing to put in there," Roberts said.

Brown contends that the location would not be well-served by having a crematorium there.

"This is a full mall now," Brown said, referring to the storage units that have become a village of small businesses, where Brown operates Caribbean Ritual Dancers.

A bakery, two salons and a bridal boutique, among others, do business at the storage units.

The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources notified the public and advised all neighbors and business owners within 1,000 feet of the property of their right to speak at the postponed hearing.

Brown said many of her students' parents had made contact with DPNR, along with other business owners who operate regular hours, unlike her nightly schedule.

"They were the ones who actually started calling," Brown said. "My business hours start at 7 p.m., the same time they were going to do the cremations at night."

- Contact reporter Michael Todd at 774-8772 ext. 304 or email

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