Lake Township trustees recently updated their regulations for the township cemetery, including placing tighter restrictions on grave decorations.
Trustees gave the resolution five readings, when only three are required, because they wanted residents to have time to give input before the rules were adopted. Many people may not be familiar with the cemetery rules because the only people furnished with a copy of them are those who buy plots, Trustee Richard Welling said.
The rules, which took effect Jan. 3, are designed to rein in decorations that include windmills, large plantings, and some decorated trees, said Gary Schulte, cemetery sexton for the Lake Township Cemetery, 3550 Walbridge Rd. in Millbury.
"We have been having problems with a few of the decorations," he said, adding that some people were decorating graves with 5-foot-tall witches and ghosts for Halloween, for example, prompting others to complain. "[Trustees] thought that we need to get some more rules in effect to control that and to make the grounds maintenance easier."
Ten of the 35 new or modified rules, which govern not only cemetery regulations, but also lots, grave prices, deeds, and burials, will be posted at each of the cemetery's three entrances before people start decorating in the spring, Mr. Schulte said.
When it comes to decorations, the rules that will be posted prohibit:
● Plants or decorations farther than 1 foot from the foundation of a headstone.
● Decorations permanently attached to the headstone, foundation, or in the ground.
● Decorations more than 2 feet tall, except for Shepherd's hooks.
● Inflatable toys, balloons, plastic objects, windmills, animals, and homemade objects deemed offensive and intrusive by the sexton or others whose lots may be in the area.
● Cement or ornamental benches.
The rules allow the sexton to remove any "unsightly or illegal" plantings and decorations in the cemetery, which was established in 1876 and has about 9,000 burials.
Although the posted rules also state that recreational activities, such as jogging, roller blading, and biking, are prohibited, Mr. Schulte said people will be allowed to use those means during warmer months to visit someone buried in the cemetery. He said the rule was enacted so people would not use the cemetery as a park.
The remaining rules that will be posted state that the cemetery will not be responsible for any loss or damage to headstones, personal property, plantings, or decorations on cemetery lots, nor is it responsible for loss or damage to vehicles on cemetery property.
Trustees decided that cemetery visitation hours are a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset.