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Patterson's bipartisan cemetery lot rights bill becomes law

December 20, 2018
Democrat Newsroom

State Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Steven Arndt (R-Port Clinton) today announced the Gov. John Kasich’s signing of House Bill (HB) 454, their bipartisan legislation that would require townships to offer compensation to owners of certain unused cemetery lots or rights before they are reclaimed. Under previous law, townships have the right to resell unused cemetery lots that were sold after 1986, though not those sold before that date, leaving many vacant lots unavailable to families wishing to be buried close to loved ones.

“Families of lost loved ones deserve peace of mind and the opportunity to plan for their family member’s final wishes and burial arrangements,” said Patterson. “Our new law will provide more families with that peace of mind while creating a stronger process for families and local communities to better manage their respective needs. Nothing is more important than honoring the final wishes of a person or grieving family, and by working together in the legislature, we were able to do just that.”

Under HB 454, a township may reclaim its interest in an unused pre-1986 cemetery lot if the township provides notice to the owner and the owner does not respond within 180 days. Otherwise, a township must allow the owner to retain or renew their interest in the lot at no cost, provide the owner a different lot, or provide the owner a portion of the original purchase price.

The bill also allows a township, at any point, to repurchase a pre-1986 lot from the owner for a mutually agreed-upon price. Once burial easements and their heirs have acquired legal rights to their lots, compensation must be afforded to them as provided under the new law. 

The new law will take effect in 90 days.