City considers reacquiring cemetery plotsResidents past and present who own a plot in the Dickinson cemetery and would like to someday use it might want to keep an eye on the Dickinson City Commission.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
Residents past and present who own a plot in the Dickinson cemetery and would like to someday use it might want to keep an eye on the Dickinson City Commission.
The commission approved a resolution to reacquire a few cemetery plots located in the city cemetery that have been unused for 79-plus years and resell them to resident George Dynes at its regular meeting Monday at City Hall.
State law allows for cities that have unused cemetery plots to reacquire them if they are not used after 60 years.
Commissioners and city staff expressed concern regarding the state law, which they thought was too little of time for the plots to be considered “abandoned.”
“Our records are very, very sketchy,” Public Works Manager Skip Rapp said. “If somebody does not see that notice we don’t have the database and the ability to know the current address to send those notices to, that if they miss that legal notice they may come back at some point and not have a family plot available.”
In the event the city wishes to reacquire unused lots, it is required to attempt to issue notice to the individuals who currently own the plot. If notice is unable to be given, then the notice must be published for 60 days, after which the plot can be reacquired and sold.
“Those owners could very much be counting on that plot and live in Nebraska, California, Texas,” City Administrator Shawn Kessel said. “They would not be so inclined to see a notice that would be published locally.”
City Attorney Matt Kolling informed the commission that according to his research, Dickinson is the first city in the state of North Dakota to use the statute.
“So we’re kind of plowing new ground on this,” Kolling said. “We don’t know what the potential ramifications of it might be, because nobody has used this particular procedure that we’ve been able to find yet.”
Commissioners expressed a desire to consider an city ordinance at a future meeting that would put the city minimum at 80-years because they felt 60 years was too few.
“These numbers are all somewhat arbitrary, whether it’s 79, 80 or 60,” Jackson said. “I do like Mr. Kessel’s suggestion as far as getting this into ordinance. ... It seems like we’re open to 80 years.”
If the ordinance is passed at future meetings the city commission would still be required to review and approve or deny future requests for the re-acquirement of cemetery lots on a case-by-case basis, Kolling said.
Mayor Dennis Johnson, president of the commission, said he was comfortable passing the resolution before the commission Monday because it was close enough to 80-years where it likely doesn’t make a difference.
“As reasonable as it is to believe that we could have people living 80-years after they purchased the lots,” Johnson said. “I think it’s also reasonable to believe they are dead and buried somewhere else.”
In other business:
* Jared Andrist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded the city of Dickinson Public Works Department and city employees Ron Bachmeier and Aaron Praus with a Cooperative Conservation Award Presentation for their work with the Patterson Lake winter fish kill.
* Approval of first reading of the Employee Status and Classification Plan Ordinance, which would change the timing of review of employee job descriptions and classifications from every year to every three years.
* Report on a proposed noise ordinance which the city may be considering at a future meeting regarding loud stereo systems in vehicles.
* Monthly reports from the Dickinson Fire Department and the Dickinson Police Department.
* Approval of a cost participation, construction and maintenance agreement with the North Dakota Department of Transportation for a mill and overlay project on 21st Street West and 10th Avenue West to 10th Avenue East paid for with stimulus dollars.
* A report regarding $800,000 in stimulus funding that is available for improvements to the hydraulic system on cell No. 3 at the Dickinson Wastewater Treatment Plant. Rapp said the commission will likely be asked to approve the use of the dollars at a future meeting.
* A report from Dickinson Airport manager Matthew Remynse on a possible funding request in the amount of $150,000 to $250,000 for a new terminal expansion project at the Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport.
* Prior to the meeting the Dickinson Board of Equalization finished up its annual job or reassessing the value of houses. City Assessor Jan Zent informed the board there were a few homes, which were reassessed, but nothing out of the ordinary.