Volume 25, Number 13    November 16, 2017

New Burial Site Law in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on October 31, 2017 to pass Bill 24-17 requiring the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) Planning Board to create and update, at least annually, an inventory of burial sites in the County. The Bill is a companion to Subdivision Regulation 17-01 (introduced) which requires developers applying to subdivide a property in Montgomery County to research the boundaries of nearby inventoried burial sites, to provide any historical or archeological research needed to confirm the presence or absence of burial sites, and to delineate the boundary of an identified burial site under the amended law. The law also requires that a burial site be protected from development except when protection would result in a "taking" of the property. The code amendment takes effect January 29, 2018, 90 days after passage.

  Montgomery County will rely on historic map research, archival research, and archeological investigations to identify old burial grounds. Historic maps, such as this 1914 USGS topographic map, depict cemeteries and churches.

Montgomery County will rely on historic map research, archival research, and archeological investigations to identify old burial grounds. Historic maps, such as this 1914 USGS topographic map, depict cemeteries and churches.

§106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires archeological investigations, including identification and treatment of burial sites, when land development projects are subject to Clean Water Act permitting, HUD funding, and other federal undertakings. Maryland law protects cemeteries as well¹; this level of protection is new for Montgomery County.

Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc.’s Archeology division has extensive experience investigating, delineating, and treating burial sites and cemeteries in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic, including disinterment and relocation. Contact Boyd Sipe or John Mullen to discuss how cemeteries and other cultural resources can impact your project.


1. Maryland Criminal Law §10-404 protects abandoned, private, and family cemeteries from disturbance and ensures family members, descendants, and others with a cultural affiliation may obtain access to a cemetery or burial site owned by others for restoring, maintaining, or visiting the site.


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