Batavia trustees discuss Christian Cemetery

November 18th, 2010    Author: Brett A. Roller    Filed Under: News

The Batavia Township trustees are asking Mt. Holly Christian Church on state Route 125 to consider taking possession of the inactive cemetery, called Christian Cemetery, behind its property.

The cemetery once belonged to the Mt. Holly Christian Chapel which was located at the same site when it dissolved in 1976. At that time the township took possession of the cemetery and an easement that would allow the township access to the east side of the church.

Batavia Township administrator Rex Parsons said state law requires the township to take possession of a cemetery they know has been abandoned.

The current church, Mt. Holly Christian Church, now wants to expand its building to the east over top of the easement and to the north into a portion of the cemetery that is unused and outside of a fence that surrounds the gravestones. Parsons said the township regularly mows the cemetery, though no burials have taken place during his tenure. The township current accesses the cemetery through the church's parking lot.

He said there are no records on any of the graves in the cemetery and the pastor of the Mt. Holly Christian Church said the church has very poor records as well.

There is some confusion in regards to the deed to the cemetery as well. Parsons said the property was transferred to the township but the deed was never recorded. While the deed of record still lists Mt. Holly Christian Chapel as the owner, it also has the township listed.

"In the past, in the politics of the 70's they did a lot of things because maybe belonged to a church up there or something," trustee Archie Wilson said.

Wilson suggested asking the church to take control of the cemetery.

"I so think what he (Archie) says is a good point, you could ask them 'hey, would you like to have it all," trustee Lee Cornett said.

Zoning administrator Denise Kelley said the church would need to apply for a zoning variance if the township maintained control of the cemetery because the addition to their building would not meet the setback requirements for property lines.

"The advantage here, if we did give it to them...there will be no property line and we won't have to worry about that," Kelley said.

She said they may still need a variance on the east side depending on their plans.

Trustee Jim Sauls said the trustees are not opposed to the church adding on to its building, but if the church took possession of the cemetery it would benefit them as well as the township.
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