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In New York State, nearly one third of deaths are now followed by cremation. In fact, the number of cremations per year is fast approaching, and may soon exceed, the number of ground burials. Recognizing this trend and aware of the growing number of interments of cremated remains, cemeteries, including those facing financial pressure, may consider building crematoriums on cemetery land. While this may make a great deal of sense for the cemetery, neighboring residents and the local zoning board may pose a potential hurdle to such plans. Such a situation will be the focus of the next several cemetery law posts, as we look at a case where the attempt to build such a facility was thwarted by a decision upholding a zoning ordinance specifically excluding cremation facilities from the definition of a “cemetery.” The case, from the Supreme Court in Westchester County, is Oakwood Cemetery v. Village of Mount Kisco, No. 15498-11. We also plan to examine the subsequent appeal and discuss the implications of the decision.

Check back soon for more on this issue.