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Planning board OKs cemetery’s expansion


The proposed expansion of one of Burlington’s city-owned cemeteries has received an endorsement from the city’s planning and zoning commission.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the planning commission gave its unanimous nod to this proposed 5.43 acre expansion of Northlawn Cemetery, which is situated along Ross Street, northwest of Burlington’s North Park.

A generations-old burial ground that served an exclusively black clientele before desegregation, Northlawn is currently one of three public cemeteries owned and maintained by the city of Burlington.

According to city engineer Todd Lambert, the city was already aware of Northlawn’s eventual need to expand when it acquired the 5.43 acres that it now plans to incorporate into the cemetery’s footprint.

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“The property was purchased by the city in February of 1996,” Lambert went on to explain during the planning commission’s meeting, “for the purpose of wanting to expand the Northlawn Cemetery as the city grew.”

Lambert noted that the city’s cemeteries and grounds division currently expects to run out of space within Northlawn’s existing 14.5-acre footprint within the next year or two. He nevertheless added that, thanks to the purchase of the adjacent 5.43 acres, Northlawn is more readily expandable than the city’s other two cemeteries – Pine Hill and Rest Haven.

“Talking to cemeteries and grounds, this is probably a 10-year project,” the city engineer continued. “This is just step one in that process.”

The city’s planning commission ultimately fielded questions from two residents before it signed off on the cemetery’s expansion.

Theresa Alston of Christopher Drive inquired if she’ll be able to see the enlarged cemetery from her home. Lambert assured her that this prospect is unlikely due to the mandated buffers in Burlington’s unified development ordinance.

“I was just wondering,” Alston replied after she received the city engineer’s assurance, “because I don’t want to sit on my deck and be able to see the cemetery.”

Meanwhile, the daughter of Gabriel Gonzalez, who also lives along Christopher Drive, asked about the expansion’s potential effect on property values on behalf of her father. Lambert told Gonzalez that, based on his own experience, the presence of cemeteries hasn’t discouraged developers from building on neighboring land.

“I think that our grounds crew takes great pride in keeping our cemeteries very nice and well manicured,” he added before the planning commission voted 6-to-0 to recommend the cemetery’s expansion to Burlington’s city council.


Decision to expand radius for sending notices about future rezoning requests:

Planning board agrees to recommend business rezoning on Alamance Road south of interstate:

New rental community planned behind former BMOC:

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