Phenix City takes over rundown cemeteries

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Phenix City has gained more than 40 acres worth of cemeteries spread over nine different properties. Each are properties the city has managed since at least 2002 according to this affidavit. This change could affect where and how your loved ones are buried in these lots.

"Before they could enter these cemeteries to bury anyone, that they would have to go through the process of obtaining a permit and making sure it's okay," explains Phenix City Manager, Wallace Hunter.

City permits for burial is what Hunter has called for. Phenix City leaders will restore nine unkept public cemeteries, after receiving adverse possession of the properties that City Manager, Wallace Hunter, says the owners abandoned.

Hunter adds"so, we've had to put a program in order and put a program together so they could be taken care of."

A program that would continue cutting the grass and repairing pieces of broke grave sites around the city, but under new ownership. It's a project that's already been worked into the budget.

Director of Finance, Steve Smith explains, "we currently, in the current budget, have budgeted $50,000 to do some upgrades and fixing some problems that are in the various cemeteries around the city."

Problems, Director of Public Works, Angel Moore says are a result of the cemeteries being built to only allow a horse and carriage on the grounds.

"A lot of the graves are being damaged because heavy equipment is rolling over them so they could go out there and actually, physically dig a grave," Moore said. "And we want to try and prevent as much of that as possible.So, if we can see, from our standpoint where there's no way that we'll be able to get a grave in this spot, we'll go ahead and make that determination then. And won't allow a permit for that section any longer."

The city is asking for you help in finding out who owns either of the cemeteries. If you have a loved one in one of the properties, you are asked to contact the Phenix City Manager's office or the office of Public Works Director, Angel Moore at (334) 448-2773.

City Manager, Wallace Hunter, tells us the permits will cost those trying to bury loved ones. He adds the city plans to send public notices to churches, mortuaries and residents about the upcoming changes. The ordinances will be rolled out after Tuesday night's council meeting.

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