LAKEWOOD RANCH — After handling four funeral services, Lakewood Ranch’s first funeral home closed just 71 days after opening in a shopping center on Lake Osprey Drive.
But it is not because of the economy or lack of demand that Because We Care Cremation and Funeral Home has left the space it was leasing at 6286 Lake Osprey Drive.
Funeral home owners James and Yvette Klausch said they received a letter from Manatee County on Sept. 20 explaining that their funeral home, which was licensed and opened on July 15, was not only in violation of Lakewood Ranch deed restrictions and Development of Regional Impact regulations but also the county’s guidelines of where a funeral home can be located.
It was a triple whammy, said James Klausch, who was given a week to get out.
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“It seems as if they didn’t want us,” Klausch said.
Since moving out on Sept. 27, the Klausches have been searching for a new spot to open that will meet all the guidelines and be in the Interstate 75 area to serve Lakewood Ranch.
The Palmetto couple has not found a spot yet that meets all the requirements.
That spot is not likely to be within Lakewood Ranch boundaries for the foreseeable future.
An official from Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Lakewood Ranch’s developer, said the restriction against funeral homes has been on the books since the late 1980s when Lakewood Ranch’s original plans were drawn up as a development of regional impact.
“We now recognize the need for a funeral home and we need to pursue those opportunities,” said Brian Kennelly, the president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty.
“With the size we have grown to be, a funeral home is certainly something to consider,” Kennelly said.
The owners of the strip mall where the Klausches leased failed to understand that a deed restriction prevented the operation of a funeral home, Kennelly said.
SMR also sent the Klausches a letter when the company found out about the business.
The Klausches are licensed for pre-need, which is selling a funeral in advance, or at need, which is at the time of death.
The Klausches used a third party to perform embalming and cremation services.
“My wife and I started that funeral home from scratch, but I think someone complained about us,” Klausch said. “I just think we had someone in the area that didn’t want us there.”
The couple wants to reopen the business east of I-75, possibly along State Road 70 or State Road 64.
“Right now, we are looking all over near I-75, Klausch said.
“We will look at anything that can meet our needs. If Lakewood Ranch can eventually change things, we will be happy. That’s really where we want to be.”