October 24, 2011

Belgrade to vote on burial rights for nonresidents

BY MECHELE COOPER Staff Writer

BELGRADE -- Voters in November will again decide whether to allow nonresidents to be buried in Pine Grove Cemetery.

Voters approved the ordinance change at Town Meeting in March. Scott Damren, town sexton, said the wording of the approved amendment wasn't exactly right, so voters need to vote again on the proposal.

"There was one vocabulary error, so all it is now is just fixing the wording on that so it has to go back to the voters," Damren said. "It's just a wording change."

The proposed amendments would adopt changes to allow for taxpaying nonresidents to buy cemetery lots provided they have satisfactory evidence of their "substantial bond" to the community, according to the wording of the measure in March.

The new wording of the cemetery ordinance amendment says a nonresident may be assigned a single burial lot in the town's cemetery, provided he or she fulfills one of three requirements.

A person must:

* have been born in the community;

* have blood relatives either living in the community or buried in the cemetery; or

* own and have paid property taxes on property in town for at least 20 years.

"This all started back when they did the nonresident seasonal meeting and the discussion came up about nonresidents who own camps and the fact that they couldn't be buried in Belgrade's cemetery," Damren said. "So the ordinance was adjusted some to allow for more nonresident taxpayers to obtain a cemetery lot."

Town Manager Gregory Gill said many people want to be buried in Belgrade for many reasons.

"They want to be buried here because it's a beautiful cemetery, they take very good care of it," Gill said. "Also, a lot of people vacation here. It's so beautiful and peaceful and they've had the best time of their lives here. There's the social part and it's vacation time. A lot of people inherit places here from their parents and grandparents. And a lot of them have loved ones buried here."

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the Community Center For All Seasons.

Mechele Cooper -- 621-5663

mcooper@centralmaine.com

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