Final zoning approval has been given for a new cemetery on 5.1 acres on Huntington Street, about a half mile south of Huntington Center.
The plan by Lawn Cemetery South Inc. (or Lawn Cemetery Association) was initially approved in 2001, but then it was tied up in court by a legal challenge for an extended period. The cemetery developers won the litigation.
The cemetery is in a Residence-1 zoning district and had received a special exception in 2001.
Last week, the city Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) revisited the issue and unanimously approved a site plan for the cemetery at 216 Huntington St., which is approximately across the street from Blueberry Lane.
“This will be a major change,” P&Z member Virginia Harger said of having a cemetery in that location.
The approval includes some restrictions, such as prohibiting mausoleum structures and limiting gravestones to four feet in height. Trees will be planted in certain locations, including evergreens to create a buffer with an abutting home to the south.
The property abuts the Far Mill River in the rear (east), and city open space to the north.
The land includes an older house and garage at its northern edge, which will become the caretaker’s residence. The P&Z approval limits these structures to such a use as well as maintenance activity, with no change allowed “in the residential character of the building.”
The Inland Wetlands reviewed the cemetery plan earlier this year because it involves grading activity near the Far Mill River. The grading will take place within an existing field.
New catch basins will be built for driveway runoff to prevent sediment from reaching the river.
No drainage or flooding issues are expected to arise from creating the cemetery, according to the city engineer’s office.
Fencing was discussed
The P&Z discussed the appropriate kind of fencing for the front of the cemetery along Huntington Street.
Some P&Z members suggested a stone wall because a solid-type structure could prevent cars from accidentally smashing into the cemetery from Blueberry Lane, and due to the neighborhood’s historic significance.
The developer wanted to use a steel picket fence that would resemble wrought-iron.
James Swift, engineer and landscape architect for the developer, said a stone wall would be very expensive to build.
A compromise was reached to use the steel picket fencing with stone pillars placed at least every 30 feet. Stone pillars are to be placed on both sides of the cemetery entrance as well.
The fence will be at least 10 feet from the street curb.
Limit on gravestone heights
The draft approval would have allowed gravestones up to six feet high, but P&Z members felt that was too high, noting some burial grounds now only allow in-ground gravestones.
Swift said the higher gravestones generally designate family plots, and are proportional to the individual headstones.
The developer did not object to limiting the gravestones to four feet in height, which was made part of the approval.
The legal address of the nonprofit Lawn Cemetery Association is on Blueberry Lane, with Royal Wells listed at its agent.
The association was formed in 2002 and has assets of about $1.1 million.
The existing cemetery on Lane Street in Huntington is known as Lawn Cemetery.