Montgomery Considers New Changes To Cemetery Ordinance

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By Catalina Trivino

From Montgomery -- the city council is cracking down on cemetery owners, saying they must keep their property clean, or else.

"You see, this has been broken," Said Donald Jenkins, who showed us a vandalized grave stone. "And this is just one of the many in the cemetery."

Jenkins has made it his priority the last ten years to preserve Montgomery's Lincoln Cemetery because he says it's been neglected over the years, with unmarked gravesites and unidentified bodies.

Now, the city's considering how to prevent cemeteries from getting into bad shape in the first place.

 

"Make it where we have to have a map and make it where we have to have an area so in 50 years we don't have a new Lincoln pop up," Said councilmember, Arch Lee.

Lee says the idea is to give the city records of where and when someone was buried.

"There are graves that continue all the way down here, approximately 150 yards," Said Jenkins, who showed us dozens of unmarked graves.

If the ordinance passes, future graves would be marked, so that they'd never be forgotten. Cemeteries would have to get a business license each year. City leaders say it would make it easier for the city to keep owners accountable.

And if they're not in compliance...

"This would allow us to go after the owners of the cemeteries throughout the city and make them do what they're supposed to do and take care of the cemetery," Said Lee.

But this means if you're burying someone in one of Montgomery's cemetaries, you'll have to pay a $125 burial permit fee and submit information about your loved one.

"It's actually not changing the ordinance, it's just modifying it so that we can have accountability and responsibility of all individuals who are involved with interring human remains in the city of Montgomery," Said Jenkins.

If this ordinance goes through and owners don't comply with it, they can be fined at least $200 for their first offense. Any subsequent offense will be a $500 fine and jail time.

The city council will meet Tuesday to discuss the ordinance and they're encouraging you to give your input.

Councilman Arch Lee says it could take several meetings before any decision is made.

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