Granite Quarry will discuss rules for burying bodies in town limits

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 6, 2021

GRANITE QUARRY — Growing towns come with some new concerns, including where it is OK to bury people after they die.

Without a local ordinance, a body can be buried on private property as long as the burial meets some basic requirements for proximity to other property and water. That’s the case in Granite Quarry, where there is currently no regulation regarding where bodies can be buried. The town’s Board of Aldermen is planning to discuss the issue on Monday.

Many municipalities opt to raise the floor on state regulation by requiring, with varying degrees of specificity, bodies to be buried in cemeteries, which are subject to a number of other state regulations. Burials at large have to meet basic state regulatory requirements, like being at least 18 inches under the ground surface and not within certain proximity to streams.

A memo to the board offers two options to consider: limiting burials to established cemeteries or “developing more detailed regulations concerning placement of grave in relation to existing property lines and houses, minimum lot sizes, etc.”

Granite Quarry Town Planner Steve Blount said the town has not had issues with burials in the past, but it’s starting to see the growth creeping north from Charlotte.

Blount said the town, which had a population of about 3,000 for years will easily see its population hit 5,000 people in the next decade.

“When an area has fairly low density of development, what you do on an individual piece of property has a small impact on the community as a whole,” Blount said. “As it grows, and grows rapidly, population density increases rapidly and what you do on an individual piece of property has a much higher impact on neighboring properties.”

He reviewed the policies of nearby municipalities to see how they deal with burial locations. Salisbury, for example, only permits burials in city-owned cemeteries and cemeteries complying with state general statutes. Salisbury’s statute is unique because it contains an exemption for federally-owned cemeteries, including the two national cemeteries in the city.

Granite Quarry does not own any cemeteries. Though, there are several owned and operated by churches.

Blount said it is only a matter of time before major growth hits the area. While growth makes planners pull their hair out, it is also an exciting time to be thinking of years instead of decades to see planning projects come to fruition.

As far as what to do with bodies, Blount said he will leave that decision to the elected officials.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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