Blanchard residents oppose plans for a funeral home

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Blanchard’s town council votes to bring a funeral home into a residential part of town. Several homeowners were against it and spoke out about their concerns.

Homeowners said they are worried about how it will effect their property values and what life would be like living next to a funeral home.

The town council voted on Tuesday night to turn what many remember as the old Methodist church to become a chapel that provides funeral and viewing services.

Frances Tonry lives next door and led efforts to oppose the vote. 

“One it’s right smack in the middle of a residential area. We’ve got children out here. We’ve got a school just a few blocks down,” Tonry said.

Tonry said it will drop property values and bring traffic congestion into their quiet neighborhood. She worries about dealing with lots of traffic during funeral processions and viewings held throughout the week.  

“I’ve got a report from Realtors.com that shows how funeral homes drop our property value and we’re all concerned about that. We want Blanchard to grow but this funeral home just isn’t what we need in a residential area,” Tonry said.

Tonry said she’d prefer to see some of the closed buildings along Main Street become businesses again. She said instead of a funeral home, she’d rather see the building become a new church or a daycare. 

The building is being bought by Hillcrest Funeral Home which has locations in Shreveport and Haughton.

The owner/representative attended the council meeting and told residents he sympathizes with them. He said items purchased such as caskets and urns will go back into the town as tax revenue. He also said he plans to make the building community-friendly and will offer a family life center along with catering services. 

“I know people are worried about the demographics and what it will do to their property value and I promise you, I get that. I can’t answer that question, all I know is that there’s not a funeral home between downtown Shreveport and north all the way to Vivian so our company saw a need for it. That’s what we’re going to do and it’s going to be first-class,” said Charles Gholson, Hillcrest Funeral Home. “I’m sorry if it’s not what you wanted, but I promise you it will be first-class” he told residents during the meeting.

The Blanchard town council voted to rezone the area for public use which residents disagreed with. 

“I don’t see this thing as being for public use. It’s being owned by a private company. Not in a public use. Amendments seem to be the answer for everything ya’ll want to push in that residents don’t want,” said Robert DeYoung, Blanchard homeowner.

Ghoulson said after today’s vote the next step will be bringing in an architect and developing the plans of remodeling the building. He expects to have it opened by sometime next year. He also explained the chapel will not embalm, cremate or prepare the bodies. That process will take place at their location near Haughton and the bodies will only be transferred to the Blanchard chapel for funerals and viewings. 

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