BURLINGTON – The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved proposed updates to the cemetery rules and regulations at the Chestnut Hill and Pine Haven Cemeteries.

In recent months, the selectmen deliberated this topic with the Department of Public Works. These recommendations came from the town’s Cemetery Oversight Committee.

The purpose of the sanctions is to make it abundantly clear what is and isn’t allowed at graves, in terms of new plantings and decorative items.

“We want to modify the rules to allow holiday decorations of a certain size, where they fit in relation to the graves,” remarked DPW Director John Sanchez. “The goal is to make the cemeteries look good. Sometimes when plants and decorations are left too long, it ends up not looking good.”

A main talking about of the updates entail allowing decorative items to be kept within 12 inches of a grave and prohibiting the planting of new shrubs. These decorative items will be allowed to remain at a grave until the set dates for removal arise.

“Some concessions were made with the cemetery staff, but this is the middle-ground we have been looking for,” declared Sanchez. “I hope these clear rules will help our residents and cemetery crews understand what is and isn’t allowed.”

The existing rules are more strict, disallowing plantings of any kind and removing all decorations from grave-sites on a weekly basis without notice to those that left the items there.

Signs will be posted throughout the cemetery sufficiently explaining the new rules.

Selectman Michael Runyan voiced how this process has been a “delicate” situation.

“It puts our employees in a difficult situation when items are removed. We take pride in maintaining a nice cemetery,” professed Selectman Runyan. “We have been looking for a middle-ground. Adding signage to help ease some of the issues is a key part of ensuring clarity in regards to what is going to be accepted in our cemeteries.”

Selectman Chair Joseph Morandi summed up the process nicely.

“It is not an easy conversation to have,” he admitted.

The selectmen unanimously ratified the proposal.

The exact rules and regulations are as follows:

- No lot or grave shall have an enclosure of any type, such as a fence, hedge, ditch or curbing. Landscaping edging may be allowed with written approval from the Superintendent of Buildings and Cemeteries.

- Decorations and ornaments, such as Christmas trees, pumpkins, balloons, and spin-wheel toys, are not permitted in the cemeteries. Small decorations during the holidays may be allowed for up to two weeks prior to the holiday, but these decorations must be placed in the area in front of a monument that is not more than 12-inches deep by the width of the monument. All decorations will be removed and disposed of by cemetery personnel, starting two weeks after the holiday.

- Planting in the cemetery single-lots and graves is limited to annual plants and flowers placed in an area in front of the monument that is not more than 12-inches deep by the width of the monument. The town and cemetery division accept no responsibility for such flowers or plants.

- Cut flowers and/or potted plants may be placed on a grave in the area in front of a monument that is not more than 12-inches deep by the width of the monument, but will be removed by cemetery personnel after two weeks or sooner, if such flowers or plants have become unsightly or unattractive. No schedule of removal will be posted in the case of unmaintained or unsightly items.

- The flat marker sections are subject to all the rules and regulations of the cemeteries with the following exceptions: No plantings of any kind are allowed; one flower pot per lot is allowed with dimensions not to exceed 6-inches wide (square or round) and overall height (with plantings) is not to exceed 12-inches high; one flag holder and/or one vigil light per lot is allowed with flag dimensions not to exceed 12-by-18-inches with a maximum height of 24-inches. All other items and decorations will be removed on a weekly basis. No schedule of removal will be posted, due to the removal of unmaintained or unsightly items.

- Anything that is hazardous to maintenance workers, cemetery employees, or machines, such as marble chips, gravel, rocks, wire pot holders, glass or ceramic items, or other breakable items, etc., is prohibited on lots and graves in the cemeteries.

- Metal or plastic flower holders may be hung from, or placed on monuments.

- The Superintendents of Buildings and Cemeteries may authorize the removal, transfer, cutting, or pruning of any previously approved tree, plants, or shrub, after a reasonable attempt has been made to notify the owner of any such proposed removal of transfer from a lot or grave. All unauthorized plantings, decorations, and prohibited items may be removed or altered at anytime with the Superintendent’s authorization and without notification.

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