The committee, which is chaired by Brent Holman, presented a rough draft of the new cemetery ordinance to the city council and those interested citizens in attendance.
“Our recommendation is for the mayor and city council to take a copy of the proposed cemetery ordinance and review it between now and the September city council meeting,” Holman said. “During the September city council meeting, discussion and initial acceptance for the ordinance should take place.”
After next months meeting, Holman said he would like to schedule a hearing to present the proposed ordinance to the general public.
Becky Tinch, who is the city council’s representative on the cemetery committee, stressed that the copy of the ordinance handed out at Monday’s meeting was a rough draft and that it could likely change between now and the public hearing following next month’s council meeting.
“We ask that the goal of the mayor and city council be to conduct a vote of approval by the December Council meeting, with a tentative effective date of the cemetery ordinance being January 1, 2012,” Holman said.
Many of the changes to the cemetery ordinance were under the section for foundations and markers.
Under the proposed changes, one importance difference will be that all monuments must be built upon a concrete foundation.
This was not spelled out in the cemetery laws before and some memorial stones were not properly installed and are now leaning over and unsafe.
Also new is a regulation regarding mementos that are placed on the ground.
The new portion of the ordinance about this states: “As a general rule, any items placed on the ground, ground mounted, or fall to the ground are not acceptable because they hinder ground maintenance and are subject to being permanently removed.”
There are two exceptions to this, however.
New graves will be allowed to have ground mounted arrangements for up to two week after burial and shepherd hooks are allowed as long as they are anchored into the ground flush with the monument’s side, front or back.
There are also new guidelines which spell out exactly what happens when a monument becomes a safety hazard.
The controversial topic of grounds maintenance is not in the proposed ordinance, but Holman did discuss that at the city council meeting.
“We recommended that the use of grass and weed killing chemicals be suspended, which took place, but now there is a need to weed eat around the monuments,” Holman said. “The city needs to clearly describe how the cemetery should be maintained with what is to be done and how often.”
There was some discussion about the possibility of the city contracting out the maintenance of the cemetery, but no action was taken.
“I’d like to commend this committee for the job they have done,” said city council member Bill Steen. “They have put a lot of good work into this ordinance.”