Crematory Gets Zoned Out: Oakwood Cemetery Part II, Why It Matters

Welcome (or welcome back) to the second of our Oakwood Cemetery series. Today’s post looks at the importance of the Oakwood decision, which upheld a zoning ordinance that blocked a cemetery’s planned construction of a crematorium.

Prohibition of the building of crematoriums on cemetery lands via local zoning regulations can foreclose an important source of revenue for operators of cemeteries. As noted by the New York State Division of Cemeteries, this is of special concern to those facilities which, in the absence of new sources of revenue, are in danger of falling into disrepair and becoming a burden to the community. Indeed, zoning ordinances that interfere with the right to build crematoriums on cemetery land can also interfere with the ability of financially sound institutions to offer a service that is complementary to what is increasingly becoming the internment of choice. After the district court’s ruling, the Oakwood case was appealed to the Appellate Division. The appellate court granted the application of the New York State Division of Cemeteries to participate in the case as amicus curiae. The Appellate Division, Second Department, held argument in the case on January 21, 2014.

Check back soon for our next post, which will discuss how Oakwood Cemetery fared on appeal.

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