Ceased construction at Cedarburg columbarium has some people "in shock"

CEDARBURG (WITI) -- Tension is growing between City Hall and their neighbor across the street, Advent Lutheran Church in Cedarburg. The fight is over a place picked out by some to be their final resting place.

It's a place designed where people can put their ashes, called a columbarium. The fight is whether or not the structure be in a cemetery instead of downtown Cedarburg.

"A columbarium by law can contain one thing, and one thing only -- and that is human ashes," said

Mid-construction a new columbarium stopped by their neighbor across the street.

"Then the city inspector came and said stop work immediately," said

Paul Rushing designed the project with 48 spaces to hold remains. A downtown final resting place he points out given the green light by the city four years ago.

"Our one mistake if you can call it that, is we let our permit expire," said

When reapplying...

"To basically kicked in the teeth on this, is a little outrageous," said

The city changed their tune. New documentation from city lawyers saying columbariums are pretty much the same as mausoleums -- which must be in a cemetery.

"It is portable or temporary. You can remove it," said

The church disagrees, but there is another problem. Some of the neighbors are not on board.

"All of the words that you use for a vibrant downtown, active, noisy, lots of people, children, room to roam, those are all of the things you don't associate with the term columbarium," said Brook Brown.

Brook Brown is the owner of the nearby Stagecoach Inn. He also sat on the Cedarburg's plan commission both times the church asked for the needed permit.

Brown says, his mind changed when he took a closer look a second time.

"This is a very visual spot. You can see it on the interurban trail," said Brown.

With no approval from the city, on Thursday, the church went ahead anyway with their plans.

"This is not a cemetery, that's why we went forward," said

Only stopping when the city threatened police would be called.

"I am semi in shock," said Brown.

Now leaving a half finished project, with its future in doubt.

The church says they went ahead with plans to build without a permit, after an attorney told them the city has no legal authority over columbariums.

Neither the city of the church had any idea what will happen next. For now, it's a half finished project.