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Cemetery Laws by County or Jurisdiction

Scott Travers, a juris doctorate candidate at the George Washington University School of Law, assisted with research during his 2021 summer internship with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. Mr. Travers completed a survey of enacted law in the State of Maryland affecting cemeteries with a focus on access to, maintenance of, and record-keeping requirements for cemeteries and cemetery owners and operators. In addition, he conducted research on county and municipal enactments regarding cemeteries.

Click on the county or jurisdiction name for a link to the jurisdiction's online codes. Individual code sections are annotated below, with a link to the specific section of code.

Allegany County

None

Anne Arundel County

Access: § 17-6-503 (b)(3) ("a 15-foot right-of-way from the nearest public or private road shall be required to maintain public or family access to the cemetery.")

Maintenance: § 17-6-503 (b)(4) ("a preservation and maintenance easement shall be provided that designates a homeowner's association or other person or organization as the party responsible for care, maintenance, and protection of the site.")

Development/Building Restrictions: § 18-11-111 (cemetery setback requirements)

Preservation: § 17-6-503 (b) (lays out preservation requirements)

Baltimore City

Miscellaneous: Ch. 28, § 10-2 (Page 54); Health Code, § 18-101 (Page 301)

Baltimore County

Access: § 17-1-115 (cannot protest funerals)

Maintenance: § 21-20-103 (maintenance requirements for pet cemetery)

Record Requirements: § 21-20-102 (record requirements for pet cemetery)

Violations: Enforcement: § 21-20-105 (possible enforcement tools for violators of pet cemetery laws); Penalties: § 21-20-106 (penalties assessed against violators of pet cemetery laws)

Development/Building Restrictions: § 401.1.1 (conservation burial ground setback requirements)

Miscellaneous: § 101.1. (defining conservation burial grounds)

Calvert County

None

Caroline County

Access: § 89-5 (c) (gives Burial Sites Preservation Board members access to cemeteries); § 89-5 (d) (Burial Site Preservation Board should encourage access for persons-in-interest to enter cemteries per MD § 14-121

Maintenance: § 89-5 (f & g) (Burial Site Preservation Board should recommend maintenance and repair techniques)

Record Requirements: § 89-5 (e) (Burial Site Commission should maintain records of the cemeteries with county planning department)

Violations: § 89-5 (I) (Burial Site Commission should refer any criminal actions affecting cemeteries to the State's Attorney); § 89-8 (violators may be subject to civil sanctions)

Miscellaneous: § 89-4 (created the Burial Sites Preservation Board); § 89-3 (a–c) (defines a "person in interest")

Carroll County

Record Requirements: MD. Code Ann. Real Prop. § 14-119 (c) (a person in Carroll County who owns land with a cemetery shall record the location of the cemetery)

Cecil County

Access: § 165-2 (the county can remove snow prior to a funeral only if the funeral director secures access to the cemetery)

Charles County

Access: § 278-46 (P) ("An appropriate easement is to be provided for any burial site located on a parcel subject to subdivision plat, which allows for ingress and egress to the burial site by persons related by blood or marriage; or persons or interest, as defined by the State Code Real Property Article. Improvements are not required to exceed any right-of-way existing at the time of subdivision.")

Record Requirements: § 278-55 (B) ("All preliminary subdivision plans submitted shall show any historic resources identified on the National Register of Historic Places, the Maryland Trust historic sites survey, or the Charles County Comprehensive Plan historic sites map, or designated scenic and/or historic roads, shall identify cemeteries, burial grounds, and known archaeological sites.")

Dorchester County

Access: § 63-5 (c, d) (Burial Site Preservation Board can enter cemeteries w/ property owner's permission, and should encourage access to cemeteries for persons in interest per MD); § 140-25 (e) (when a new development is built on/near a cemetery, ingress/egress must be given to that cemetery for blood relatives and persons in interest)

Maintenance: § 63-5 (f, g) (Burial Site Preservation Board recommends guidance for maintenance of cemeteries, and supervises restoration/repair of cemeteries)

Record Requirements: § 63-5 (e) (maintain a list of all cemeteries and their owners)

Violations: § 63-8 (violating the Burial Site Preservation Board chapter can result in criminal or civil penalties); § 63-5 (a, I) (Burial Site Preservation Board has power to respond to violations of state and local burial site protection laws, and report any allegations of criminal activity to the State's Attorney)

Development/Building Restrictions: § 63-6 (development must stop when a cemetery is discovered, and the Burial Site Preservation Board must respond)

Frederick County

Access: § 1-16-242 ("For any burial site located on land subject to a subdivision plat, an appropriate easement shall be provided for ingress and egress to the burial site by a person who is related by blood or marriage, or who has a cultural affiliation with the persons interred in a burial site, or who has an interest in a burial site that the office of the state’s attorney for the county where the burial site is located recognizes is in the public interest after consultation with a Local Burial Sites Advisory Board or, if such a Board does not exist, the Maryland Historical Trust.")

Garrett County

None

Harford County

None

Howard County

Access: § 16.1304 (a developer that is building on land where a cemetery is located must provide public access to the cemetery)

Record Requirements: § 16.1303 (Planning & Zoning, Dept & Cemetery Preservation Advisory Board shall have an inventory of all cemeteries in the county, and their owners)

Violations: § 16.1308 (any violation of 16.13xx can be puished by enforcement of civil or criminal penalties); § 16.1306 (any developer who removes human remains from a cemetery prior to "entering the development process" cannot develop the area formerly operating as a cemetery

Preservation: § 16.1304 (a developer that is building on land where a cemetery is located must dedicate that land to use as a cemetery in perpetuity)

Kent County

None

Montgomery County

Maintenance: § 4.3 (m)(1)(d) (a development that encompases a cemetery must be protected to ensure the site is maintained and preserved)

Record Requirements: § 33A-17 (d)(2) (Planning Board must maintain an inventory of burial sites and their owners located in the county)

Development/Building Restrictions: § 3.5.4 (d) (family burial sites can only be located in certain areas with certain restrictions)

Miscellaneous: Montgomery County burial sites inventory information

Prince George's County

Access: § 24-135.02 (a)(5)(d) (a developer building on land with a cemetery must preserve the cemetery and ensure "adequate access")

Maintenance: § 2-486 (a person can only sell a burial plot and represent to the public that the gravesite will receive perpetual care if the seller has provided adequately for that perpetual care); § 24-135.02 (a)(5)(b) (a developer building on land with a cemetery must establish a fund sufficient to care for the perpetual maintenance of the cemetery); § 2-146 (c)(6) (it is unlawful for a cemetery to fail to provide perpetual care when it is contractually obligated to provide perpetual care, or receives income for the purpose of perpetual care)

Record Requirements: § 2-477 (h) (Director of Environment shall keep a list of all cemetery permit holders); § 24-135.02 (c) (County Planning Board shall keep a list of all cemeteries identified in the subdivision review process)

Violations: § 2-477 (Director of Environment can investigate cemetery operators, subpoena evidence, sue a cemetery operator, issue a cease & desist); § 2-485 (Director of Environment can refer matter to County Attorney for civil penalties or state's attorney for criminal, or sue directly for injunctive equitable relief and/or imposing a fine of up to $5,000); § 2-488 (violators of this chapter are guilty of a misdemeanor and can be punished with up to a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison)

Miscellaneous: § 2-478 (Director of the Environment requires some types of cemetery owners to receive a permit from the County to operate. There are no specific requirements for access, but § 2-486 does require cemetery owners to get a permit and demonstrate they can provide perpetual care for the graves); § 14-130 (b) (code does not restrict the placement of "family burying grounds of reasonable area" from being established anywhere)

Queen Anne's County

Access: § 13-1, 3 (cannot loiter in cemeteries and other public place)

Somerset County

Access: County Engineer's Construction Plan Review Checklist (asks subdivision applicants to give information on "cemetery location, including access")

St. Mary's County

None

Talbot County

Development/Building Restrictions: § 190-28.5, 28.6 (defining restrictions on where cemeteries can go and the acreage required)

Washington County

Access: § 10-201, 202 (no loitering in public places including cemeteries)

Wicomico County

Development/Building Restrictions: § 225-83 (setback requirements and acreage for non-religious institution cemeteries and burial grounds); CHECK LINK§ 225-105 (setback requirements for religious institution cemeteries)

Miscellaneous: § PC-19 (Pittsville commissioners charter, gives local commissioners power to regulate cemeteries); § SHC3-1 (Sharptown charter, gives local commissioners power to regulate cemeteries); § WC-18 (Willards charter, gives local commissioners power to regulate cemeteries); § DC4-12(Delmar charter, gives local commissioners power to regulate cemeteries); § FC3-2 (Fruitland charter, gives local commissioners power to regulate cemeteries); § SC5-1(a)(27) (Salisbury charter, gives Salisbury power to protect public property including cemeteries); § MC1-11 (b)(9) (Mardela Springs Charter, gives local commissioners power to regulate cemeteries)

Worcester County

Development/Building Restrictions: § ZS 1-201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208 (zoning setback requirements for cemeteries)

City of Frederick

Miscellaneous: § 322 (c)(5) (to be annexed into the City, the requesting area must identify historic properties including cemeteries)

Rockville

Access: § 13-57 (b, c) (cannot loiter in public places including cemeteries); § 13-52 (a person may not indecently expose themselves or perform lewd acts in a public place, including cemeteries)

Miscellaneous: § 1 (b)(11) (Rockville City Charter gives Council power to regulate cemeteries)

Gaithersburg

Access: § 15-4 (b) (cannot loiter in public places, including cemeteries)

Miscellaneous: Appendix F, § 2(b)(6) (Gaithersburg council has the power to regulate cemeteries)

Bowie

None

Hagerstown

Maintenance: § 173-10 (cannot deface tombstones or despoil shrubbery in cemeteries)

Miscellaneous: § 401 (b)(10) (Hagerstown charter allows the town council to regulate cemeteries)