INDEPENDENCE, Ohio—Fortuna Funeral Home on Brecksville Rd. in Independence is looking to expand their arrangement offices to a house located next to the main funeral home building.
Funeral Director John Fortuna said the funeral home added new staff members in the last few years and the building has run out of room for both business offices and arrangement offices in the upstairs of the existing building. The funeral home purchased a single-family dwelling located next to the funeral home at 7064 Brecksville Rd. approximately a month ago, though Fortuna said the idea of the project has been in the works since Nov. of 2019.
The purchased home was in a single-family dwelling zone, and at a Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 4, the commission unanimously approved a U-3 special conditional use permit so Fortuna could use the home as a business office. The plan is to move all arrangement offices to the home including two to three offices with a casket and urn selection area.
The upstairs of the existing funeral home would then be all business offices, according to Fortuna. He said the purchased home would also be used for extra storage and the two-car garage at the property would house the funeral home’s vehicles.
During the planning commission meeting, Fortuna said the plan was to “gut the interior and start from scratch to make the building serve our purpose.”
Vice Mayor Dave Grendel, who is a member of the Planning Commission, said the goal was to make the arrangement area homier when people meet with the funeral home directors about their lost loved ones. Fortuna agreed with the commission that the architecture of the purchased home should match the same style of the existing funeral home.
“It is an extension of the funeral home,” said Fortuna. “We are proud of what we do and want to serve [the community] better.”
There are other exterior changes that will be made including a driveway that would connect the parking lot at Fortuna Funeral Home to a right-of-way at the purchased home. The city owns the strip of land between the funeral home and purchased house and granted Fortuna an easement to allow for the driveway connection.
As far as disruption to residences in the area, Grendel said he does not anticipate any issues. He stated there was no opposition at the virtual public hearing on Aug. 4 and that Fortuna Funeral Home will do its best to respect residents in the area.
“Fortuna has been here close to 15 years and has been a very good commercial resident of the city. They are respectful of their neighbors,” said Grendel.
Currently, there is a plan to install a privacy fence on the West side of the purchased home as well as potentially the North side. Fortuna said there are no drawings of the renovation plan yet, and that he will meet with City Architect Norm Casini to discuss ideas for the exterior of the home. Grendel said the next step after plans are drawn is for Fortuna to work with the Architectural Board of Review to gain approval of the outer appearance of the house.
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