Sunday, November 12, 2000

Relocation of graves creates flap

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — The graves of Maj. William and Agness Boon have come back to haunt Robert Calvert 14 years after he sold the farm where the two were buried in 1937.

        A developer is asking him to pay $5,000 to relocate them.

        Mr. Calvert, who owned the property from 1940 to 1986, is not related to the Boons. He has lived in California since 1958. “I don't agree that the responsibility to pay for the move is ours,” he said.

        He said he told the developer about the graves both when he sold the property and later when he discovered a house being constructed near them. He also offered to pay $500 to relocate them.

        “It was in their back yard, and that's when I became interested,” Mr. Calvert said.

        But the developer, Lochmere Development Corp., denied being informed and after researching the issue, said it would cost much more to relocate the graves.

        They aren't the only abandoned graves found around Kentucky. As farmland throughout the state is being developed, abandoned graves and family cemeteries are being found each year.

        In 1998 and 1999, the state issued nine permits to relocate abandoned graves, according to records kept by the vital statistics division of the Department for Public Health.

        “We find some abandoned graves every year,” said Al Wellings, a Lexington city engineer.

        Last year, seven graves were discovered off Man o' War Boulevard and Tates Creek Road in Lexington after a backhoe operator found the remains of a woman buried in an iron casket, Mr. Wellings said.

        Before a county's fiscal court can declare a cemetery abandoned, the applicant must prove the graves have been untended for at least 10 years and must wait out a 60-day public notification period that gives relatives an opportunity to step forward.

        This legal process to move the graves was being initiated last week.

        Troy Thompson, president of Lochmere, said he is willing to pay for the move if Mr. Calvert won't, to avoid potential lawsuits by the builder.


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