[We've followed the Summerland story at the AFM. The owners were unfairly discriminated against and we're glad to see they're taking Bibb County to task- Ed]
The backers of Summerland Natural Cemetery sued the Bibb County government in federal court Thursday, contending that the county had no right to pass an ordinance specifically to block the “green” cemetery from ever opening.
Summerland Group Inc. wants a federal judge to overturn the county’s ordinance, then force the county to pay unspecified amounts of money in damages, reimburse legal expenses and allow the cemetery to be built under guidelines from the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission, which already approved the project.
Read more: http://www.macon.com/2010/04/03/1081509/green-cemetery-backers-sue-bibb.html#ixzz0kEeQNRpS
The company hopes to have as many as 750 natural burials on 58 acres in east Bibb County. Bodies would be buried without preservatives in a biodegradable container, at least 3 1/2 feet under the surface, in a 10-acre parcel in the middle of the cemetery.
Summerland said the Bibb County Commission passed the ordinance in 2008 explicitly to prevent Summerland from developing the land under county guidelines, an act it calls “arbitrary and capricious.” The ordinance “has no rational basis and it bears no real or substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals or to the general welfare,” Summerland attorney Charles E. Cox Jr. of Macon wrote.
Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams said Friday he could not comment because he had not seen the lawsuit yet.
The lawsuit demands a jury trial and also sued the Bibb County commissioners individually.
Much of the opposition to the cemetery came over worries about water pollution from decaying corpses. The ordinance prohibits new graveyards within 1,000 feet of wells, lakes, streams and aquifers.
The southern half of Bibb County sits over the huge Floridian aquifer, and most of the rest of Bibb County has underground water sources beneath it.
Summerland said the county singled out the cemetery and isn’t similarly regulating other county cemeteries offering “green” or natural burials. The lawsuit does not say which, if any, cemeteries in Bibb County offer those burials.
The proposed cemetery site is on a hill at 4600 Davis Road near the Twiggs County line.
Information from The Telegraph archives was included in this report.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.