Township of Three Oaks, MI
Berrien County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Board of the Township of Three Oaks 12-10-2018 by Ord. No. 36A. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and cited as the "Three Oaks Township Cemetery Ordinance."
The Three Oaks Township Board of Trustees recognizes and concludes that the proper and reasonable maintenance, appearance and use of the cemetery or cemeteries owned or controlled by the Township is an important function of the government of the Township. It is also important that burials, disinterment and other matters associated with a municipal cemetery are handled in a respectful and proper way in order to promote the safety, public health and general welfare of the community. The Township Board of Trustees finds that the adoption and enforcement of this chapter is in the best interest of the property owners and residents of the Township.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
CEMETERY PLOT
Consists of an area in a Township cemetery sufficient to accommodate one burial space to one deceased person. It shall consist of a land area approximately 56 inches wide and 120 inches in length in the Hillside Section, Block Nine and the Bi-Centennial Section. The size of one burial space may vary in the older sections. Exceptions may be made to accommodate infant burial or the burial of cremains.
TOWNSHIP
Three Oaks Township.
TOWNSHIP CEMETERY or CEMETERY
Any cemetery owned, operated and/or controlled by the Township.
A. 
After the effective date of this chapter, cemetery plots shall be sold by the Township for the purpose of burial for the purchaser of a cemetery plot, or his or her immediate family. No sale shall be made to funeral directors or others, except for those acting as an agent for an eligible purchaser.
B. 
All sales and transfers of cemetery plots shall be made on a form approved by the Township Board and signed by the designated Township official, which grants a right of burial only and does not convey any other title or right to the cemetery plot or burial space sold. Such forms shall be signed by the Township Clerk or Township Deputy Clerk, and shall constitute a permit when approved.
C. 
At the time of purchase from the Township, each cemetery plot shall be assigned the name of the specific person who shall be interred in that cemetery plot upon death.
D. 
Cemetery plots are nontransferable without prior written approval by the Township. They may be sold back for the original purchase price to the Township (for resale by the Township).
E. 
The Township Board shall have the authority to place a limit on the number of cemetery plots sold to a particular person, as well as such person's family and relatives. Furthermore, the Township shall have the absolute right and discretion to determine whether a particular cemetery plot or plots will be sold to a specific person and where such cemetery plot or plots will be located and within which Township cemetery. Such decision shall be based upon reasonable factors, including, but not limited to, the number of vacant cemetery plots available and whether family or relatives of the person seeking to purchase a cemetery plot or plots are buried adjacent or nearby the cemetery plot or plots requested.
F. 
The Township shall have the right to correct any errors that may be made concerning interments, disinterments, or in the description, transfer or conveyance of any cemetery plot, either by canceling the permit for a particular vacant cemetery plot or plots and substituting and conveying in lieu thereof another vacant cemetery plot or plots in a similar location with the cemetery at issue or by refunding the money paid for the cemetery plot to the purchaser or the successor of the purchaser. In the event that an error involves the interment of the remains of any person, the Township shall have the right to remove and transfer the remains so interred to another cemetery plot in a similar location in the same cemetery in accordance with law.
G. 
The lawful owner of any cemetery plot within the Township shall promptly provide the Township Clerk with any change in that owner's mailing address.
A. 
The purchase price of burial plots shall be established by the Township Board, and a copy of the price list in print shall be kept by the Township Clerk. All charges shall be paid to the Township Treasurer.
B. 
The Township Board may waive some or all fees for the burial of an indigent person who has been a resident of the Township. Such burial shall be in a single grave or cremation site of the Township's choosing. The Board, however, reserves the right to require payment of interment fees before allowing family or friends to place a marker or monument foundation on the grave of such indigent person where law applies. Furthermore, the Township Board may set aside a portion of a Township cemetery or cemeteries for the burial of indigent persons.
C. 
The Township Board may by resolution periodically alter the foregoing fees to accommodate increased costs and needed reserve funds for cemetery maintenance and acquisition.
A. 
The Township may charge reasonable fees for the opening and closing of any cemetery plot, prior to and following a burial therein, and including the interment of ashes. Such fees shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Township Board, payable to the Township.
B. 
No cemetery plot shall be opened or closed except under the direction and control of the Township Sexton or such other individual as is designated by the Township Board. This Subsection B shall not apply to any grave opening, disinterment, or similar action which is done pursuant to a valid court order or under the supervision and direction of local or state health department authorities; however, even in such cases, the Township Sexton shall be given at least 24 hours' prior notice of when such grave opening or closing will occur.
A. 
All markers and memorials must be comprised of stone or other equally durable composition, be of a dignified design and may face the same direction as the markers and memorials around them. Makeshift memorials will not be permitted.
B. 
Except for monuments that existed in a Township cemetery before the effective date of this chapter, no monuments will be allowed or erected in a cemetery.
C. 
For purposes of the chapter, "monument" shall be defined as any marker, memorial, statue or similar item which exceeds 36 inches in height above normal ground level or which has a ground surface area exceeding 36 inches in width (or 48 inches in width for a double marker, two adjacent burial sites), with an overall height of no more than 36 inches above ground level, including the foundation.
D. 
One aboveground marker or memorial per burial site. Memorials shall be placed only at the head of the grave site, facing east. When with burial combinations (§ 117-8A), individual markers for cremains shall be flush with the ground and shall be no more that 12 inches by 24 inches in size. This regulation applies in no way to memorials now in place, but represents an ideal to be attained.
E. 
The footing or foundation upon which any marker or memorial must be placed shall be constructed by the Township or such person(s) as may be designated by the Township Board. Fees for such work shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Township Board, payable to the Township. The foundation must be four inches larger in all directions than the stone it supports. Markers and memorials cannot be delivered until proper foundation has been completed. No foundations will be installed from November 1 through March 31.
F. 
Should any monument or memorial (including any monument or memorial that was in place before this chapter became effective) become unsightly, broken, moved off its proper site, dilapidated or a safety hazard, the Township shall have the right, at the expense of the owner of the cemetery plot, to correct the condition or remove the same. The Township shall make reasonable attempts to contact the owner of the cemetery plot prior to any such work beginning.
G. 
The maintenance, repair and upkeep of a cemetery memorial, marker, urn or similar item is the responsibility of the heirs or family of the person buried at that location. The Township has no responsibility or liability regarding the repair, maintenance or upkeep regarding any such marker, memorial, urn or similar item.
A. 
Burial sites are for human remains only.
(1) 
The following burial combinations are allowed currently per burial site:
(a) 
One coffin burial;
(b) 
One cremation burial;
(c) 
One coffin and two cremation burials;
(d) 
Four cremation burials.
(2) 
(These combinations are allowed only when physically possible.)
B. 
The Township shall be given no less than a forty-eight-hour notice in advance of any funeral to allow the opening of the cemetery plot. The opening and closing of cemetery plots shall be done only by the Township or such person or persons as are designated by the Township.
C. 
The appropriate permit or form issued by the Township for the cemetery plot involved, together with appropriate identification of the person to be buried therein and the burial-transit permit from the health department, shall be presented to either the Township Sexton or the Township Clerk prior to interment. Where such permit or form has been lost or destroyed, the Township Clerk must be satisfied, from his or her records, that the deceased person to be buried in the cemetery plot is authorized and appropriate person for that space before any interment is commenced or completed.
D. 
The surface of all graves shall be kept in an orderly and neat-appearing manner within the confines of the cemetery plot involved.
A. 
No disinterment or digging up of an occupied grave shall occur until and unless any and all permits and licenses and written authorizations required by law for such disinterment or digging up of an occupied grave have been obtained from any applicable state or county agency, governmental unit or official, and a copy of the same has been filed with the Township.
B. 
The Township Board shall have the authority to refuse to allow a disinterment or the digging up of an occupied grave (and to refuse to issue a Township disinterment permit for the same) if the disinterment or digging up of an occupied grave is not done pursuant to a court order (issued by a court of competent jurisdiction) or does not have a reasonable basis.
A. 
The Township may charge additional fees for winter burials.
B. 
If a winter burial cannot occur due to inclement weather, frozen ground or similar condition, the deceased person may be kept in winter storage until a spring burial can occur. Written permission by the next of kin or authorized agent must be obtained prior to winter storage. All such winter storage costs shall be paid by the estate of the deceased person or the person's next of kin.
C. 
No winter burials shall occur without the prior consent of the Township Sexton.
A. 
Cremains may be buried in a container approved by the Township in a cemetery plot.
B. 
No cremains shall be scattered or dispersed within a Township cemetery.
All urns, vases, pots, baskets and boxes are to be placed on permanent foundations at the head of grave and in line with the stone. One pot of plants may be placed at the head of each grave with an exception to the regulation being made for one year after burial. During this time, more than one pot shall be permitted.
A. 
All winter artificial wreaths and sprays will be removed by May 1.
B. 
All summer artificial wreaths and sprays will be removed by October 1.
C. 
No grading, leveling or excavating within a cemetery shall be allowed without prior permission of the Township Sexton or the Township Clerk. Furthermore, no tree, shrub, landscaping or similar plantings shall occur without the prior permission of the Township Sexton or the Township Clerk.
D. 
No flowers, shrubs, trees or vegetation of any type shall be planted outside of an urn. Any of the foregoing items planted without Township approval will be removed by the Township or the Township Sexton.
E. 
The Township Board reserves the right to remove or trim any existing trees, plants or shrubs located within a cemetery in the interest of maintaining proper appearance and the use of the cemetery.
F. 
Mounds, bricks, blocks and any border that hinder the free use of a lawn mower or other gardening apparatus are prohibited.
G. 
The Township Sexton shall have the right and authority to remove and dispose of any and all growth, emblems, displays, containers and other items that through decay, deterioration, damage or otherwise become or are unsightly, a source of litter or a maintenance problem.
H. 
Surfaces other than earth or sod are prohibited.
I. 
All refuse of any kind or nature, including, but not limited to, dried flowers, wreaths, papers and plastic flower containers, must be removed from the cemetery within 10 days after a burial.
J. 
No glass containers or items are allowed.
K. 
Except for markers, memorials, flowers, and urns expressly allowed by this chapter, and veteran flags as authorized by law, no other item (including, but not limited to, ornaments, signs, trellises, statues, benches, landscaping, bricks, stones, lighting, grave border materials or other structures) shall be installed or maintained within a Township cemetery, nor shall any grading, digging, mounding or similar alteration of the ground or earth occur except as authorized by this chapter or by the Township.
Every person who enters, remains in and travels within a Township cemetery does so at their own risk. The Township is not responsible for any injury, accident or other calamity that might occur to any person present in a Township cemetery. Furthermore, the Township is not responsible for any damage or vandalism to, theft of or deterioration of any burial monument, headstone, flower urn or other item placed at or near a cemetery plot, burial site or anywhere in a Township cemetery. The purchaser or transferee of any cemetery plot or the equivalent (and all subsequent transferees, assigns, heirs, or beneficiaries) hereby releases, waives, indemnifies and holds harmless the Township for, from and against any injury, damages, causes of action, claims, costs and expenses associated with, relating to and/or involving the cemetery plot or similar right any headstone, monument or similar items, and any matter related to the cemetery involved. Such waiver, release and hold harmless provision shall apply not only to the Township, but also as to the Township Sexton and any Township employee, officer, official or agent.
Cemetery plots or burial spaces sold after the effective date of this chapter and remaining vacant for 40 years or more from the date of their sale shall automatically revert to the Township upon the occurrence of the following events:
A. 
Notice shall be sent by the Township Clerk by first class mail to the last owner, informing him/her of the expiration of the forty-year period and that all rights with respect to said plots or spaces will be forfeited if he/she does not affirmatively indicate, in writing, to the Township Clerk within 60 days from the date of mailing of such notice of his/her desire to retain such burial rights; and
B. 
No written response to said notice, indicating a desire to retain the cemetery plots or burial spaces in question, is received by the Township Clerk from the last owner of record of said plots or spaces, or his/her heirs or legal representatives, within 60 days from the date of mailing said notice.
The Township may repurchase any cemetery plot from the owner for a price set by the Township Board, upon the written request of said owner or his or her legal heirs or representatives.
The Township Clerk shall maintain records concerning all burials, cemetery plots, issuance of burial permits and any other records of the Township related to Township cemeteries, and the same shall be open to public inspection at all reasonable business hours.
A. 
All burials shall be within a standard concrete vault (which meets all applicable laws) installed or constructed in each cemetery plot before interment. Vaults of other suitable materials may be allowed at the discretion of the Township.
B. 
Cremains shall be in a container approved by the Township.
A. 
Unless otherwise specified by the Township Board by resolution, all Township cemeteries shall be closed from dusk until dawn the next morning.
B. 
During that period, no person shall be present in a Township cemetery. Such prohibition on being present in a Township cemetery during that period when a Township cemetery is closed shall not apply to the Township Sexton, any Township official, a person accompanied by the Township Sexton or other Township official, or any law enforcement or firefighting official when engaged in the lawful duties of any such office or position.
C. 
During the winter, the cemetery may be temporarily closed, for public safety, until the drives are properly cleaned.
A. 
The following prohibitions shall apply within any Township cemetery:
(1) 
No person shall destroy, deface, apply graffiti to or otherwise injure any monument, sign, tree or other lawful item located within a Township cemetery.
(2) 
No person shall disturb the peace or unreasonably annoy, harass or disturb any other person who is lawfully present on the grounds of any Township cemetery.
(3) 
No vehicles shall be permitted to drive on lawns or cemetery plots in a cemetery.
(4) 
There shall be no entry or presence in the cemetery by any person when the cemetery is closed or outside of authorized times.
(5) 
There shall be no destruction of cemetery property.
(6) 
There shall be no destruction, defacing, cutting, etc., of any tree or plant within the cemetery.
(7) 
There shall be no headstones, ornaments, vases, plastic flowers, fences, benches, trellises, statues, signs or any other item placed, kept, installed or maintained in a cemetery except those expressly allowed by the chapter.
(8) 
There shall be no disturbing of the peace or engaging in any loud or boisterous conduct.
(9) 
There shall be no digging, grading or mounding unless expressly authorized by this chapter.
(10) 
There shall be no driving of an automobile, truck or any vehicle on any portion of a cemetery except the designated roads or drives.
(11) 
There shall be no motorcycles, snowmobiles, four-wheelers, go-carts or similar vehicles.
(12) 
There shall be no gathering of persons in excess of 75 people without prior Township approval (except during or incidental to a funeral occurring concurrent with burial).
(13) 
There shall no disinterment or grave opening unless approved by the Township.
(14) 
There shall be no possession or consumption of any alcoholic beverage.
(15) 
There shall be no picnicking or consumption of food without prior Township approval.
(16) 
There shall be no music, playing of any radio, or use of any amplification device or similar item, except pursuant to a military ceremony of a funeral.
(17) 
There shall be no solicitation or peddling of services or goods or any signs or placards advertising any goods or services.
(18) 
There shall be no littering or dumping.
(19) 
There shall be no unlawful interference with or disruption of a lawful funeral or funeral procession.
(20) 
There shall be no private signs, lighting, moving displays or changeable copy on a sign.
(21) 
There shall be no fires, candles or open flames.
(22) 
No children under 12 years of age shall be allowed in any Township cemetery unless accompanied by an adult and are properly supervised by an adult.
(23) 
There shall be no exceeding of posted speed limits.
(24) 
There shall be no domestic animals of any kind or pets allowed within the cemetery grounds. However, this prohibition shall not apply to dogs assisting handicapped persons or service dogs.
(25) 
No firearms or archery arrows shall be discharged or shot except that military or other veterans organizations may carry arms for the purpose of firing over the grave at the burial of a member.
(26) 
No person shall engage in any fight, quarrel or disturbance.
(27) 
Cremains or ashes of a deceased shall not be scattered or dispersed.
(28) 
There shall be no dumping, vandalizing or tipping over any lawful garbage container or receptacle.
A. 
The Township Board shall appoint a Cemetery Superintendent/Sexton who shall serve at the discretion of the Township Board. The Cemetery Superintendent/Sexton may be a Township employee or independent contractor for the Township at the discretion of the Township Board.
B. 
The Cemetery Superintendent/Sexton shall assist other Township officials with the enforcement and administration of this chapter.
C. 
The Cemetery Superintendent/Sexton shall have such duties and obligations with regard to Township cemeteries as may be specified from time to time by the Township Board.
The Township Board shall have the authority to set fees pursuant to this chapter from time to time by resolution. Such fees can include, but are not limited to, a fee or fees for a burial permit, disinterment permit, grave opening, setting of foundations, grave closing, winter or holiday burial, the price for a new cemetery plot, transfer fees for cemetery plots, and other matters.
A. 
This chapter shall apply only to cemeteries owned, controlled or operated by the Township.
B. 
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to Township officials or their agents or designees involved with the upgrading, maintenance, administration or care of a Township cemetery.
C. 
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to police officers or firefighting officials or officers involved in carrying out their official duties.
A. 
The Township Board shall have the authority to render binding interpretations regarding any of the clauses, provisions or regulations contained in this chapter and any rule or regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter, as well as the applicability. The Township Board (or its designee) is also authorized to waive application of the strict letter of any provision of the chapter or any rules or regulations promulgated under this chapter where practical difficulties in carrying out the strict letter of this chapter or any rules or regulations related thereto would result in hardship to a particular person or persons or the public. Any such waiver, however, must be of such a character as it will not impair the purposes and intent of the chapter.
B. 
Any party aggrieved by any interpretation or decision made by the Township Sexton or any Township official, agent or contractor pursuant to this chapter, as well as any matter relating to a Township cemetery, rights to a cemetery plot, or other matter arising pursuant to this chapter, shall have the right to appeal that determination/decision or matter to the Township Board. Any such appeal shall be in writing and shall be filed with the Township within 30 days of the date of the decision, determination or other matter being appealed from. The Township shall give the aggrieved party who filed the written appeal with the Township at least 10 days' prior written notice of the meeting at which the Township Board will address the matter unless an emergency is involved, in which case the Township shall utilize reasonable efforts to notify the aggrieved party who filed the appeal of a special or emergency meeting of the Township Board at which the matter will be addressed. Pursuant to any such appeal, the decision of the Township Board will be final.
C. 
The Township Board may set a fee or fees for any such appeal from time to time by resolution.
A. 
The Township Board shall appoint a Cemetery Committee of a least three members. The members of the Cemetery Committee shall serve at the pleasure of the Township Board. The Cemetery Committee shall from time to time review the operations and conduct of cemetery activities and as necessary shall make recommendations to the Township Board for rules and regulations to be adopted by the Township Board by resolution to aid an efficient and orderly operation of the cemeteries in Three Oaks Township.
B. 
The day to day supervision and operation of the cemeteries in the Township shall be under the direction of the Cemetery Superintendent/Sexton.
C. 
The Cemetery Superintendent/Sexton shall serve on the Cemetery Committee in a nonvoting capacity.
Any monument, marker, planting, trellis, personal item, urn, flowers or foliage (whether real or artificial), structure, flag (except for lawful veterans flags), or other item that has been placed, installed, left or maintained in any Township cemetery in violation of this chapter, any Township rule or regulation regarding Township cemeteries, or any county, state or federal law, statute or regulation may be removed by the Township from the Township cemetery at any time and destroyed or disposed of by the Township without any prior notice to, permission from, or liability or obligation to the person or persons who left, installed, maintained or kept such item in the Township cemetery. No such item (including, but not limited to, a monument, marker, planting, trellis, personal item, urn, flowers or foliage, structure, flag or similar item) can be installed, placed, maintained or kept in a Township cemetery unless expressly authorized by this chapter or a written rule or policy of the Township. Even if such item is authorized to be installed, kept, maintained or left in a Township cemetery, the Township shall have the discretion to remove any such item at any time and dispose of the same without prior notice to, consent from or liability to the person or persons who installed, maintained or left such item in a Township cemetery.
A. 
A violation of this chapter (or of any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this chapter) constitutes a municipal civil infraction. Any person who violates, disobeys, omits, neglects or refuses to comply with any provision of this chapter, or any permit or approval issued hereunder, or any amendment thereof, or any person who knowingly or intentionally aids or abets another person in violation of this chapter, shall be in violation of this chapter and shall be responsible for a civil infraction. The civil fine for a municipal civil infraction shall be not less than $100 for the first offense and not less than $200 for subsequent offenses, in the discretion of the court, in addition to all other costs, damages, expenses and remedies provided by law. For purposes of this section, "subsequent offense" means a violation of the provisions of this chapter committed by the same person within 12 months of a previous violation of the same provision of this chapter or similar provision of this chapter for which said person admitted responsibility or was adjudged to be responsible. Each day during which any violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.
B. 
A violation of any permit or permit condition issued pursuant to this chapter shall also constitute a violation of this chapter.
Unless otherwise specified by the Township Board by resolution, the following officials or officers shall have the authority to enforce this chapter and to issue municipal civil infraction citations/tickets pursuant to this chapter: Township Supervisor, Township Clerk, Township Zoning Administrator, Township Enforcement Officer, any Deputy of the County Sheriff's Department or any state police officer.
The provisions of this chapter are hereby declared to be severable, and should any provision, section or part thereof be declared to be invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall only affect the particular provision, section or part thereof involved in such decision and shall not affect or invalidate the remainder of this chapter, which shall continue in full force and effect.