Athens planning commission tables approval of pet crematorium move

ATHENS, Ala. – It was a packed house at an Athens public hearing all because a pet crematorium wants to move in city limits.

Paws Memorial Services wants to move to the former Tennessee Valley Wholesalers building on at the intersection of Highway 72 and Brownsferry Street. They seek a conditional use permit from the city.

Billy Sickler and his wife Erica run the facility in unincorporated Limestone County next to their home on Quinn Road.

Sickler tells WHNT News 19 they have already purchased the much larger facility on Hwy 72, having closed on it last month.

It was standing room only at Athens City Hall Tuesday, with many residents having concerns about noise, dust/mess, or odors that may emit from the larger facility in the middle of Athens.

But the owners say they will be good neighbors.

“I would never want to put my business in front of the public like that if we weren’t going to do everything we needed to get it approved,” said Billy Sickler.

He goes on to say everything is approved by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management in terms of air control, and that the noise would be nothing worse than the sound of an air conditioning unit.

Those claims are supported by city leaders at the meeting, who say they have visited their current facility multiple times and noticed no odor, no noise, and extreme cleanliness. They recommended the planning commission approve the permit.

But residents still have questions, so the commission decided to table the decision until their next meeting in March.

Sickler says they have high hopes for the new property, which will give them more room to serve more pet owners. He also wants Athens residents to know he will work to put their minds at ease, knowing that pet cremation services is an unfamiliar area for most.

“Don’t jump to judgment without knowing the business,” he said. “We welcome anyone to come by and take at our of the facility, we’re clean, we do everything right and we have an open door policy.”