Rosedale & Rosehill Cemetery Request – Next hearing this Monday, November 19th
Beginning in March of this year, there have been several hearings before the Township Committee for a request to consent to the establishment of Rosedale & Rosehill Cemetery (Block 12, Lots 16 and 16.01 – Lamington Road near intersections of Island and Meadow Roads) on land owned by Chubb. It is important for all citizens to be heard. Below is information that may be helpful for you to understand the concerns that have been raised.
At issue is whether an organization that operates large cemeteries should be granted special waiver by our Township Committee to build a large new cemetery. The important criteria is whether there is a need in Readington for a new cemetery/mausoleum complex given the fact that we already have 21 cemeteries. A second criteria is whether a new cemetery is in the public interest of Readington. Please note that the key geographic term is “Readington”, not a broad expansive area around Readington that Rosedale proposes.
The “New Jersey Cemetery Act, 2003”, states the following with respect to consent of a municipality (C.45:27-25):
A cemetery shall not be established or enlarged in any municipality without first obtaining the consent of the municipality by resolution.
No more than five cemeteries may be established in any one municipality, and not more than 3% of the area of any municipality shall be devoted to cemetery purposes.
A cemetery shall not be established or expanded to exceed 250 acres at any one location.
The governing body of a municipality, by resolution, may waive the limitations of subsection b. or c. of this section if it finds there is a public need for additional cemetery lands and that it is in the public interest to waive them.
A cemetery company shall not dedicate additional land to cemetery purposes without board approval.
A number of citizens have provided information at hearings that question the “public need and the public interest” which both must be met.
Here is a quick selection of 5 active cemeteries fulfilling rule ”b” above: three religious-affiliated cemeteries (Mechanicsville Methodist Church, Readington Reformed Church, and Three Bridges Reformed Church) and two certified (non-religious) cemeteries (Rural Hill and Newell). Although the Rosedale/Rosehill representatives have stated that only certified cemeteries count, this is not substantiated by the 1971 NJ State Legislature’s Cemetery Act that acknowledges both municipal and church-owned cemeteries exist as verifiable entities.
Research has identified that these 5 cemeteries have plenty of capacity for future burials. Current rates of grave purchases are low at these 5 cemeteries (8 graves/year) as many Readington residents have chosen to be buried elsewhere. Furthermore, cremations, which consume less space, will likely account for 80% of burials by 2035 (as stated by the President of the National Funeral Directors Association). So, given that we have 16 additional cemeteries than the 5 we mention, there appears to be little need for a large new cemetery.
Additional oppositional testimony has raised questions about the “public interest”, including potential traffic, safety, and environmental impacts. The NJDEP [Surface Water Quality Standards (N.J.A.C. 7:9B-1.4)] has designated the adjacent Lamington River as a Category 1 water, which suggest this should be protected from changes in water quality and to protect its aesthetic value (color, clarity, scenic setting) and ecological integrity.
If you are able, please attend the Township Committee meeting (after 7 pm) this Monday, November 19, and have your voice heard.
November 15, 2018