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Zoning regulations applicable to cemeteries

Kate Edwards

There is a very small "abandoned" cemetery near my property. The actual graves are about 250 feet back from the road. The tax map shows a 21-foot wide strip of land running from the road to well beyond the graves.

A volunteer fire company purchased the church property some 30-40 years ago, demolished the church and erected the fire hall. According to the tax map, the fire department does not own this 21-foot strip of land. However, they have improved the land by paving over the 21-foot strip, installing a stockade fence and erecting a utility shed.

Here's my question. Is there usually an ordinance prohibiting this type of "encroachment" onto cemetery land?
Or can the fire department get away with using the cemetery's land as long as they provide people with access to the graves? The firemen have not disturbed the graves in any way...they are behind and outside of the area that the fire department has paved and fenced in.

I am trying to find out if the firemen can legitimately use this land as if it belonged to them. I would have preferred to see it remain as a grassy area.

Linden Smith

Zoning Regulations applicable to cemeteries

You would have to do a title search to get the full story, but the 21 foot strip is in all likelyhood an access easement. This means that the fire department owns the land, but must grant access to the cemetary. They can build on or improve the easement, so long as access is still available.