Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cemeteries and zoning in Bibb County, Georgia

One of the things we've discovered in our early research into cemeteries and land use is that there seem to be almost as many zoning regulations as there are government jurisdictions. Even in southern New Jersey, where I live, they run the gamut from none to historic to specifics on the amount of paved surface.
But in one county, Bibb County in Georgia, they must not think they need cemeteries at all -- because county commissioners there have pretty much put the kabosh on any new cemeteries there, and seem to have particularly targeted a green cemetery. Among the regulations are significant setbacks from water sources and the requirement that bodies be buried in a “leak-proof casket or vault.”
While perhaps well-meaning, the commissioners are woefully shortsighted. How do they think their Founding Fathers were buried? What do they think of current Jewish and Muslim practices? If they are worried about contamination of water, what do they think of the risks of formaldehyde? Or arsenic, which was part of the embalming practice from the Civil War days through the early 20th century?
The vote already is drawing criticism, including an editorial in the Macon Telegraph, which notes the commissioners' ignorance of burial practices and shortsightedness.

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