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LOCKPORT – The city Planning Board gave its approval Monday to a proposal to build what Orleans County Coroner Scott M. Schmidt called “a funeral home for pets” on West Avenue.

However, the Common Council will have the final say on a special-use permit sought by Schmidt for the former Rodgers Welding Supply shop at 520 West Ave., where Schmidt proposes to cremate pets after giving their owners the opportunity to say goodbye to them.

Schmidt needs to acquire the property, for which he has only a verbal purchase agreement, and line up financing for his new business before he installs the furnace and renovates the building. But he said he hopes to be open within a year.

Schmidt, a funeral director for more than 30 years in Albion, said he chose Lockport because it’s roughly equidistant between the two nearest pet cremation facilities, in West Seneca and suburban Rochester.

“It’s been one of the fastest-growing parts of the death care industry,” Schmidt said. He said pets “are considered part of the family. … There’s considerable emotional and financial investment in a pet.”

The Planning Board’s approval carried conditions. Schmidt is not allowed to operate a pet cemetery, and he must cremate only household pets, not larger animals.

He also has to install a privacy barrier on the east side of his property.

“I’m encouraged by everyone I’ve spoken to about this project,” Schmidt said. “There’s a definite need for it.”

He said he will need a $125 state permit for the business, which could be open seven days a week. He pledged there will be no odor from the cremations. Pet owners will have the option of claiming the ashes, but if they don’t, the ash will be disposed of legally.

The Council will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. April 23 on the special-use permit request.

The same night, it will hold a hearing on a special-use permit on Gina Nowak’s plans to open a fitness training center on the second floor of the recreation facility attached to the Kenan Center Arena, 195 Beattie Ave.

Nowak said she will lease the 2,880-square-foot space from the Kenan to operate a private business with five to 10 employees. The Planning Board recommended that the Council approve her permit.

Also Monday, the planners approved a request from Reid Petroleum to construct a two-story, 3,780-square-foot addition to its West Genesee Street headquarters.

The enlargement would bring about 10 additional jobs to downtown Lockport. Reid plans to consolidate the management of its Crosby Stores subsidiary into the fuel company’s main office, which now covers about 15,000 square feet.

The Planning Board also recommended Council approval of a city code amendment allowing building inspectors to give tickets to illegally parked cars on unpaved areas in front and side yards. Right now, only police officers have that power.

“It’s the repeat offenders, the habitual people, that’s what we want to cut down on,” Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool said.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com