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Pennsylvania officials researching cemetery acquisition

Officials in Lansdale Borough, Pennsylvania, are mulling the property acquisition of a cemetery.

The owners of a local cemetery at Whites Road and Broad Street in the community, a suburb of Philadelphia, have asked officials to take over the cemetery and mausoleum. The cemetery board approached the area leaders, asking for help. A member of the city council said that the cemetery board is filled with elderly people who have not been able to agree on a succession plan and can no longer raise enough money to maintain the property.

In the early days, running the cemetery was relatively easy, one board member said. It had become somewhat of a community eyesore back then, and people were gratified to have it beautified. Fundraising appeals brought in all the money they needed in the early years.

Now, aside from not having a younger board with an interest in maintaining the cemetery, the board has run out of money to care for it, one member said. With older generations buried there, younger descendants have run out of interest to pay for upkeep and improvements.

In a sign that borough officials were giving strong consideration to taking over the property, the council approved bringing in an inspector and asking an engineer to judge the structural quality to evaluate the property.

Under state law, a municipality must take over a cemetery within its boundaries should it fall into a state of disrepair. It would not be the first time a community had taken over a cemetery. Souderton Borough, Pennsylvania, for example, became owner of an area cemetery and took over its upkeep.

In this case, the transaction could be relatively easy since the cemetery board wants the community to take over the plot. But a cemetery owner who risks losing a plot against his or her will should know how to fight any government efforts.

Source: Montgomeryville-Lansdale Patch, "Borough May Acquire Lansdale Cemetery," Tony Di Domizio, June 26, 2012

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