Brundidge adjustment board denies exception for cemetery plot

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 31, 2019

The City of Brundidge Board of Adjustments met Thursday night to consider a request by Charlie Harris for a special exception to the R-3 (Multi-Family Residential) property he recently purchased on the north side of 7th Avenue to allow for a cemetery on the property.

Dixie Shehane, board chair, told those in attendance that the public hearing was being held to give residents in that area an opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns for or support of the special exception request.

Shehane said the allowed uses for R-3 property include duplex apartments, a domiciliary, condos, townhouses but not a cemetery.

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“We are here tonight to consider Mr. Harris’s request for the special exception that would allow for a cemetery on his property,” Shehane said. “He will have an opportunity to speak as well those who wish to speak in favor or in opposition to his request.”

Harris told those in attendance that, when he purchased the property, he was undecided as to its use.

“But I saw need for a cemetery in Brundidge,” he said. “And, I have the property for a cemetery.”

For those reasons, Harris said he had requested the special exception to the R-3 designation of his property.

Harris said the cemetery would be on five acres in the middle of the property and would join the city’s Lakeview Cemetery.

“The cemetery will not have tombstones so no tombstones would be in anyone’s front or back doors,” Harris said. “Me and my workers will keep the cemetery clean.”

Harris said estimated that the five-acre cemetery would accommodate between 2,000 and 3,000 graves.

Betty Patterson expressed concern that the special exception would open the door for other ventures and her desire is to keep the 7th Avenue area residential.

She cited a situation of concern “up the road” that has turned into a “juke joint” and situations where the police have been called.

“We don’t want any more mess,” she said.

Anglia McCray said residents don’t want a graveyard in their backyards and others said the value of their properties would decrease with the location of a cemetery in the area.

Ron McKinney said 7th Avenue is an area when people live and children play and grow up.

“It’s not a place for somebody to make money. We don’t want a cemetery.”

The residents of 7th Avenue asked for a definitive map of the area that would show the exact location of the proposed cemetery, its exact size, the number of gravesites, the parking areas and where the parking areas would be and the location of the roads leading to and from the cemetery.

The residents also expressed concern about the perpetual care of the proposed cemetery.

Harris said he did not have a survey of the area showing any of that information.

“It would cost a lot of money for a survey like that,” he said. “I’m not going to spend that much money and then get denied. When I get the special exception, I’ll get the survey.”

Harris said his attorney informed him that he didn’t have to have a survey.

Fifteen residents attended the zoning board meeting.

None spoke in support of Harris’ special exception request. Shehane said the board received petitions and emails asking that Harris’ request for a special exception to R-3 zoning be denied.

Shehane asked the board members for a motion regarding Harris’ request for a special exemption.

Randy Ross made the motion to deny Harris’ request for a Special Exception to the R-3 designation of his property in the 7th Avenue area. Ross said the opposition of the residents is the basis for his decision.

“I’m not opposed to a cemetery but our homes are our major investments. They are where we spend most of our time,” Ross said. “If our homes become a source of frustration and irritation, that will interfere with our quality of life. The residents of 7th Avenue have said they don’t want a cemetery. I vote no.”

Board members Richard Baker, Constance Bivins and Charles Rogers also voted no.

Earnestine Beachem voted in favor of the request. Shehane abstained, saying she was unable to vote due to the lack of information provided by Harris.