Local Governments Haunted by Graveyard Regulations
During the month of October, front yards across the country are transformed into ancient burial grounds where long term tenants are attempting to escape. In most situations, this spellbinding event vanishes on November 1st, leaving authentic cemeteries to exist without much thought until the next October.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made “private cemeteries” – cemeteries on private land where the owner is not in the business of operating a cemetery – more common outside the month of October as individuals reevaluate their final wishes. In doing so, local governments are faced with the question of whether these private cemeteries are permitted. There are no statutes prohibiting a county from enacting ordinances to regulate this activity. Some ordinances require a special use permit for this purpose, while others require the property owner to serve notice to the county so property records can reflect these locations.
Further, the North Carolina General Statutes and Administrative Codes do not prohibit private cemeteries, but do regulate how and where an individual may be buried on private property. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Requirement that notice of death be provided to law enforcement before burial (N.C.Gen.Stat. §14-401.22);
- Filing the death certificate with the county registrar within five days of the death (N.C.Gen.Stat. §130A-115); and
- Having a space of at least 300 feet between a public water supply and the burial site (15A N.C.A.C. 18C, § .0203).
Each county’s analysis will be different due to these considerations, and our team at Teague Campbell can help you navigate this graveyard of pitfalls. Feel free to give us a call.