Weird Maine Cemetary Laws
Who knew the fine people of Wells, Maine were so particular about their graveyards?
Wells has a law that states “Advertisements May not be placed in Cemeteries” 100-4 PROHIBITED ACTS (amended 11-2-93). Here is the full ext of the law:
A. The following acts are violations of this chapter:
(1) [Amended 4-7-2001] 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:
(a) Gravestone rubbings and the cleaning of monuments pursuant to the guidelines of the Maine Old Cemeteries Association (MOCA) shall be exempt from this section.
(b) 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 lease 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).
(2) Posting of any signs except those incidental to the operation of the cemetery, placards or advertisements except historical markers in a cemetery area.
(3) Willfully littering a cemetery or allowing materials to be scattered or blown about a cemetery so as to cause litter.
(4) Operating snowmobiles, minibikes, trail bikes, or other all-terrain-type off-the-road, recreational vehicles in a cemetery area [Amended 4-7-2001]
(5) 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. [Added 4-7-2001]
B. 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.
C. 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 even less than 25 feet from a grave site.
Of course, this covers a lot of territory. Let’s review:
No sort of vandalism, so no bored kids can get their kicks by turning over headstones in the cemetery. No siree, not in the city of Wells, Maine (and I hope in other cities as well) Go vandalize someplace else; those folks in the cemetery aren’t bothering you. Unless they are…
Do not ride your snowmobile, your mini bike, trail bike or 4 wheeler in the cemetery in Maine, really why would you anyway? Given that this piece of the law was added in 2001 (also known as The Year of the Snowmobile, right? No? Oh well…) I imagine this was a problem.
In Maine, don’t plan to go to the cemetery to dig anything up, no matter what it is, they don’t allow it and neither do I, I mean, really?
You can’t build anything in a cemetery in Maine, no structure, nothing either on purpose or accidentally.
Don’t count on building any roads in a cemetery in Wells, Maine. I mean, not unless there REALLY needs to be one there.
And, last but not by any means least, do not plan on advertising anything in a cemetery in Maine. No signs, billboards or small note may be placed in the cemetery. I think I understand this part pretty easily, don’t you? Who would you be advertising to, after all? None of the residents of the cemetery are in the position to buy what you’re selling. Unless…