Judge rules Walden Pond Pet Cemetery can stay - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Judge rules Walden Pond Pet Cemetery can stay

A judge ruled Wednesday the owner of the property containing Walden Pond Pet Cemetery cannot remove the graves and turn the land into a parking lot. (Source: WECT) A judge ruled Wednesday the owner of the property containing Walden Pond Pet Cemetery cannot remove the graves and turn the land into a parking lot. (Source: WECT)
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) -

A judge ruled Wednesday the owner of the property containing Walden Pond Pet Cemetery cannot remove the graves and turn the land into a parking lot.

The partial judgment comes after pet owners sued the property owner, Ricky Coates, in May of 2015, when he sent them a letter saying he intended to develop the lot, and that they had 90 days to remove their pets’ remains from the cemetery. Coates had bought the property a month earlier for $35,000.

Pet owner Joe Walsch has six dogs buried in the cemetery. He said he was angry when he got the letter.

According to court documents, the judge concluded Coates had knowledge of the cemetery before he purchased the property, and “chose not to contact any of the Plaintiffs or others with pets buried in the Cemetery to determine the status of their rights, despite having been provided their identities.”

The other part of the case, which is set for trial at a later date, deals with a drastic increase in maintenance fees Coates levied on the pet owners.

On Oct. 22, 2015, Coates sent a letter to the owners advising them the $25 annual maintenance fee was being changed to a $19.94 monthly fee, and that failure to pay would result in their “rights to the Cemetery ground [becoming] null and void.”

“It was a very beautiful place," Walsch said. “It was just nice, like a little park. It would be nice to see it returned to its former glory, but I don’t know if that’ll ever happen.”

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