MD-BaltimoreCity-L ArchivesArchiver > MD-BaltimoreCity > 2009-09 > 1254332849
From: Kathi Jones-Hudson <>
Subject: Re: [MD-BALTIMORECITY] St. Vincent Cemetery-Distribution of salesproceeds
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 10:47:29 -0700 (PDT)
I think the short answer would be that the Catholic Church/Archdiocese of Baltimore is the legal property owner of the entire cemetery/property and people who purchased lots are "holders" of specific burial plots rather than of the entire property and are not listed in land records as "owners".
If you've ever purchased a cemetery plot you know that you get a deed with very specific rules & regs, plot description and while I don't have one in front of me right now, I'm guessing that you rights are limited. Also those deeds are in a specific person's name and even though your gr-gr grandmother is buried in a cemetery it doesn't mean that you are the owner of the plot. When my dad died my brother and I inherited his two empty cemetery plots and it was specifically stated in his will that we were to get those plots. So depending upon who the original owner left the plots to and who that person left them to, all the way down to the present time, you might not have any legal rights in your ancestor/family members' burial plot. BTW: The original Ft. Lincoln -- PG Co. -- deeds we had were incredibly racist and ... well, horrified me, very specific about who could not be buried in the cemetery.
Usually it's required to post in a newspaper that you intend to sell a cemetery property and anyone who has claims to ownership of plots, etc. has a certain amount of time to respond. Of course these notices are sometimes very tiny, posted in odd places in a newspaper or in a legal newspaper that is unlikely to be read by most folks.
Somewhere this morning I did find and cannot remember where now, that cemeteries without Perpetual Care funds were more likely to get approval for sale than those with them. Possibly because those funds are supposed to be in escrow type accounts.
Also this is certainly not the first time a cemetery property has been put up for sale in Baltimore City, many old burial grounds/cemeteries in the city have had remains removed and reburied elsewhere. I remember wanting to check out some graves that had been reburied at Loudon Park and discovering they were in an unmarked mass grave. Very distressing.
I did find some lengthy legalese on MD Law specific to the sale of cemetery property for another use in Baltimore City. It's long but basically if the property owner follows the guidelines I think it's a legal sale of property:
§ 5-506. Action for sale of burial ground in Baltimore City for another purpose.
(a) Authorized.- An action may be brought in accordance with the Maryland Rules and a court may pass a judgment for sale of a burial ground in Baltimore City for another purpose if:
(1) the ground has been dedicated and used for burial;
(2) burial lots have been sold in the burial ground and deeds executed or other written instruments issued to buyers of the lots without provision being made for perpetual care of the lots; and
(3) more than 75% of the area of the burial ground:
(i) has been abandoned; or
(ii) is harmful to the public health, safety, or welfare.
(b) Who may bring action.- The action may be brought by:
(1) a person with a property right in the burial ground; or
(2) a governmental unit with an interest in ending the conditions that are harmful to the public health, safety, or welfare.
(c) Action by court.- If the court is satisfied that more than 75% of the area of a burial ground has been abandoned or is harmful to the public health, safety, or welfare, the court:
(1) may pass a judgment for the sale of the entire burial ground on the terms and notice the court sets; and
(2) may appoint a trustee to sell the burial ground.
(d) Proceeds from sale.- The trustee shall distribute the sale proceeds:
(1) first, to pay the expenses of removing any human remains, that, with reasonable care, can be definitely located in the burial ground, buying burial lots in another burial ground, and reburying the remains;
(2) second, to pay expenses of removing any markers that are in good condition from the old lots and relocating the markers on new lots;
(3) third, to pay the expenses of ending conditions that are harmful to the public health, safety, or welfare, unless the contract of sale of the burial ground provides for abatement of those conditions within a reasonable period of time after the sale is completed;
(4) fourth, to pay the costs of necessary legal proceedings, including court costs, trustee's commissions, and legal fees;
(5) fifth, to pay in full any taxes; and
(6) finally, to pay the balance of the proceeds to the person who, immediately before the sale, had record title to the burial ground in its entirety according to the land records of Baltimore City.
(e) Effect of judgment.- A judgment for the sale of a burial ground or a deed or other conveyancing instrument executed by a trustee under this section passes to the buyer of the burial ground the title to the burial ground free of:
(1) the claims of the owners of the burial ground;
(2) the claims of the holders of burial lots; and
(3) the intended or actual use or dedication of the land in the burial ground for burial.
[An. Code 1957, art. 16, § 120; 1992, ch. 4, § 2; 1997, ch. 675, §§ 1, 2.]
Kathi Jones-Hudson, National Coordinator
Tombstone Transcription Project
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