FARMINGTON -- A proposal to expand the city cemetery -- potentially adding up to 1,600 burial plots in three phases -- will be presented to residents who live in the region as a possible solution to shrinking burial space in the city.
The proposal, first outlined in a city council meeting Tuesday, would expand the burial area into the Mountain View Park, which is located to the immediate east of the cemetery. The park and a tennis court separate the cemetery from neighboring homes to the east.
The first phase would move the park fence 50 feet to the east, opening up as many as 340 potential burial plots, and Phase 2 would move the fence another 50 feet, opening up another 340 plots, while the final phase would remove the park fence completely and could add as many as 900-plus burial sites to the cemetery, according to Neil Miller, parks and recreation director, who was asked to initiate the study.
City leaders want to meet with neighbors in the area to the east of the burial ground before submitting the proposal for possible review by the planning commission and then a final vote by the council.
Councilman Sid Young, who lives east of the cemetery, had proposed the council only present the possibility of phases 1 and 2 to residents in moving ahead with discussion of the plan. However, his motion was voted down 3-2, with Mayor Scott Harbertson casting the tie-breaking vote. Harbertson and Councilmen Rick Dutson and Jim Talbot felt it was better to present all three phases of the expansion plan to residents when initiating discussion of any proposal.
With existing cemetery space now dwindling to the point the city can no longer sell side by side burial rights, discussion of cemetery options has been a sensitive issue for city leaders for the past few years.
Leaders have looked at buying land elsewhere in the city for a possible new burial ground, as well as expanding the current cemetery.
"I certainly understand the need. I suggest we not give up on finding other locations," Young said.
Young termed the possibility of encroaching into the park to the point of eliminating the play area a betrayal of public trust.
Harbertson said the expansion plan would at least buy some time in addressing burial needs of residents.
In a related move impacting cemetery space, city leaders also voted to new stipulations regarding rules and regulations at the cemetery.
Remaining burial rights in the cemetery will now be limited to residents in the city and no more than two burial rights shall be sold to a single immediate family. The city sells only burial rights, not the plots.
There are currently 90 single plots left in the cemetery and the construction of a new veterans memorial in the burial ground is expected to open up an additional 13 burial plots in the near future.