[HISTORY: Adopted the Town of Wells 3-6-1987. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to protect all public and private cemeteries, burial grounds, and grave sites within the Town of Wells from destruction and desecration.
Unless otherwise specifically provided herein, the provisions of this chapter shall apply to every existing and future cemetery, burial ground and grave site within the boundaries of the Town of Wells.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings indicated:
- BURIAL GROUND
- A place known to be used for the burial of human remains, including but not limited to family burying grounds, but not designated as a cemetery.
- A place designated for the burial of human remains, whether or not the boundaries of the cemetery are identified in a deed recorded in the York County Registry of Deeds.
- GRAVE SITE
- Any place where human remains are buried, whether marked with a stone or other marker or unmarked.
- A public or private way which provides access to two or more abutting properties.
The following acts are violations of this chapter:
The willful disfigurement, marking, defacement or tampering with any tomb, gravestone monument or other object placed or designed as a memorial to the dead or any fence, railing or other thing placed about or enclosing a burial place; except:
Gravestone rubbings and the cleaning of monuments pursuant to the guidelines of the Maine Old Cemeteries Association (MOCA) shall be exempt from this section.
The repair, maintenance and removal of any gravestone, marker, monument or other structure designed as a memorial to the dead, or a portion or fragment of a memorial, in accordance with the provisions of 13 M.R.S.A. § 1371, shall be exempt from this section, provided that the Historic Preservation Commission of the Town of Wells is given at least 30 days notice of the action intended and does not object in writing within said notice period. The Historic Preservation Commission is hereby designated to receive the notice required by 13 M.R.S.A. § 1371(2) and to approve or deny a request when municipal action is required by 13 M.R.S.A. § 1371(1).
Posting of any signs except those incidental to the operation of the cemetery, placards or advertisements except historical markers in a cemetery area.
Willfully littering a cemetery or allowing materials to be scattered or blown about a cemetery so as to cause litter.
Operating snowmobiles, minibikes, trail bikes or other all-terrain-type off-the-road, recreational vehicles in a cemetery area.
The removal or disinterment of a dead human body or remains from a grave site, whether marked or unmarked, except in accordance with a permit from the Municipal Clerk or a court order. If the body is located in an historic grave site, burial ground or cemetery, the person or entity seeking removal must seek the recommendation of the Historic Preservation Committee, which shall be obtained in writing. In making its recommendation, the Historic Preservation Committee shall consider the historic significance of the grave site, burial ground or cemetery and of the person or persons buried there, the reasons removal or disinterment is requested, the final disposition proposed for the body, any proposals for relocating and preserving the gravestones, markers, monuments or other memorials and such other information as the Committee deems relevant.
No building, structure or edifice, except those existing on the effective date of this chapter and those incidental to the operation of the cemetery, shall be erected or placed within 25 feet of any grave site.
No new road shall be located such that the traveled portion of the road is located within 25 feet of the boundary of a cemetery or burial ground, if the boundary is marked in some way, or in any other case, within 50 feet of any grave site. If the grave site is marked, the measurement shall be taken from the stone or other marker; provided, however, that when there is no other reasonable location for a road providing the only access to one or more properties, the fifty-foot setback may be reduced the minimum amount necessary to provide reasonable access; but in no event less than 25 feet from a grave site.
The Code Enforcement Officer shall be responsible for the protection of the individual grave sites, cemeteries and burial grounds from any construction prohibited under this chapter, utilizing the document entitled "Cemetery Locations in Wells, Maine" compiled by Hope M. Shelley, dated 1997 and updated in 2000, as it may be amended, a copy of which is on file in the Code Enforcement Office, and other available and reliable information. The Town police shall enforce all other provisions of the chapter.
Any person/persons violating the provisions of this chapter shall be punished by a civil penalty of not less than $100 nor more than $2,500. In addition, any such person shall also bear the costs of returning each site, to the extent possible, to its original condition.