Responding to a trend in the funeral trade, Norwich Township in April added a columbarium to Wesley Chapel Cemetery, 3225 Dublin Road in Norwich Township.

A columbarium is a structure for storing containers or urns holding cremated remains.

Only one name is etched on the 15,000-pound columbarium but six more of the 72 "niches" have been sold, said Robbie Thomas, cemetery sexton and road superintendent for Norwich Township.

Thomas researched and pitched the purchase of the columbarium to Norwich trustees because he wanted to provide families with alternatives when planning a funeral, he said.

He also wanted to prolong as long as possible the sellout of Wesley Chapel's approximately 15,000 plots.

It will not happen soon and cannot be precisely predicted, Thomas said, but it one day would occur.

Plots are regularly sold, bought back by the township and sold again, Thomas said, but he expects all the plots in the 40-acre cemetery will be claimed in the next 20 years.

About 1,000 plots remain available for purchase, he said.

Prices last increased in 2012 and are $700 for residents and $2,000 for all others.

Niches for the columbarium are priced identically.

"It's a growing trend and we wanted to provide people with an alternative," said Larry Earman, a township trustee.

He said he knew of instances in which a family chose cremation yet were required to purchase a plot to bury an urn.

The six-sided granite columbarium was manufactured and installed locally by Modlich Monument Co. in west Columbus and cost Norwich Township $40,000.

It is next to the mausoleum at Wesley Chapel Cemetery.

If the columbarium fills, Thomas said, a second one would be installed near it.

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