What is happening with the Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio — should not happen to any Ohio cemetery regardless of its status; most certainly it should not be happening to one that is active. The township should have taken it over and assumed responsibility for it when it became abandoned by its owners. Ohio law mandates this is what should be done.
Sharing an April 3, 2016 story in the Columbus Dispatch about the Floral Hills Memory Gardens which spotlighted the Pickaway County location and included information about the Ross County location and its plight as well.
MATTHEW J. DeTEMPLE, Executive Director
House State & Local Government Committee
May 16, 2017
HB 168 Modify Cemetery Law
“Townships and Cemeteries”
“Townships maintain over 2400 cemeteries in Ohio. Township cemetery law may generally be found in Ch. 517 of the Ohio Revised Code. A township is required to have a cemetery laid out in lots, number the lots, and the township fiscal officer must keep careful records of said actions (ORC §517.06). The board of trustees is required to make and enforce all needful rules and regulations for the division of the cemetery into lots and the allotment of lots to families or individuals, and for the care, supervision and improvements of said lots. ORC §517.06 further requires that the grass and weeds in the cemetery be cut at least twice a year.
The ORC mandates that a township provide for the protection and preservation of cemeteries under its jurisdiction (ORC §517.11). While the Code states that townships may re-erect any fallen tombstones, a 1975 Attorney General Opinion (OAG 75-083) states that “boards of township trustees have a duty to repair and re-erect monuments and tombstones in public cemeteries within their jurisdiction when the repair is necessary to keep the cemetery in good repair.” The opinion further states that “a board of township trustees has a duty to repair and re-erect monuments in a cemetery that has been vandalized.”
The township may choose to enclose township cemeteries with a fence or hedge but should they do so, the township is required to keep the fence or hedge in good repair (ORC §517.11). When a board of county commissioners has enclosed with a fence all abandoned public cemeteries in the county from which remains have not been removed, the board of township trustees shall keep the fence in good repair and remove the undergrowth and weeds at least once a year (ORC §517.32).
Townships, per ORC §517.11, are charged with the protection and preservation of cemeteries under their jurisdiction. If a public cemetery or a cemetery association wishes to have a board of township trustees take over responsibility of said cemetery, the board of trustees shall accept the transfer (ORC §517.27). Furthermore, a municipal corporation may abandon a cemetery outside the boundaries of the municipality and the trustees shall assume responsibility for the cemetery (ORC §517.28).”
The Pickaway County Sheriff’s Department has announced on its website the upcoming Sheriff’s Auction of the Floral Hills Memory Gardens, which is an active cemetery with at least 672 interments:.
|Auction Date & Time:||March 3, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m.|
|If Not Sold Second Sale Date:||March 24, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m.|
|Address:||Floral Hills Cemetery|
|Parcel Number:||M30-0-004-00-037-00, M30-0-004-00-033-02, M30-0-004-00-048-00, M30-0-004-00-038-00, M30-0-004-00-039-00|
|Attorney Name:||Jeffrey A. Catri|