City to vote for increased cemetery safeguards - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

City to vote for increased cemetery safeguards

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Consider it another feather in Phyllis Armstrong's hat.

"We're hoping this will settle a lot of problems that people are having," she says.

For years she has worked with preservationists and the City of Montgomery to strengthen laws protecting local cemeteries.

The city council will soon vote to amend its current cemetery laws requiring cemetery owners to acquire a business license before anyone is buried there.

And that's not all.

"Having a designated sexton, having a record of burials, having a map showing where they plan to have future burials and then obviously registering with the city," says Montgomery Public Works Director, Chris Conway. 

If a cemetery doesn't comply, no one will be buried there.

The amendment is designed to get a better grasp on who is buried where.

It will also prevent burials on top of burials at places like Lincoln Cemetery--which was neglected long ago.

"We know a sunken grave when we see one and we've read many of them out here. Today, there are people buried in those sunken spots that we read in 2002," says Armstrong.

Preservationists are also pushing this ordinance to protect people who bought plots in cemeteries like Lincoln years ago. Because there are few laws in place, some people find someone else buried in the spot they purchased.

"To continue as we have in the past says we're obviously not doing the right thing," says Conway.

The likelihood that cemeteries like Lincoln won't see many more burials is high--especially since it most likely won't comply with the new amendment.

To Armstrong, that's good--since she says there are already too many unknown graves there to count.

The city council is expected to vote on the amendment at the next meeting.

The measure would require anyone burying someone to pay a $125 dollar fee to help the city offset record keeping costs.

Copyright 2013  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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