Preserving Hunterdon County History

3rd Annual Cemenar

Protecting and Preserving American Hero’s Graves in New Jersey

23 September 2016, Flemington, New Jersey - Workshop recommends NJ Cemetery Board administer Historic cemeteries.

Download full summary report (Report.PDF)

The key high-priority recommendations of the workshop were:

  • Expand role of New Jersey Cemetery Board to include historic cemeteries in order to Provide a regulatory authority to register historic cemeteries and enforce their preservation and protection.
  • Require that all deeds reflect the presence of a cemetery or burial ground in the property description and ensure that the cemetery presence in maintained through all future transfers.
  • Allow conditional access to private owned graveyards, cemeteries and burial grounds by family, descendants or their agents for restoration and maintenance.
  • Prohibit destruction of privately owned cemeteries by landowners.
  • Property dedicated to cemetery purposes and used as a burial ground may not be sold in such a manner as to interfere with its use as a cemetery. (Alienation)

This was the third annual cemetery seminar (“Cemenar”) and for 2016 it was sponsored by The Mount Amwell Project, Inc. and supported and scheduled as a Hunterdon 300th Committee event. The previous seminars or “Cemenars” were organized and presented by concerned members of the sponsoring organizations to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic cemeteries or burial places within Hunterdon County. Examples of neglect, discussion of preservation issues, and demonstrations of specific preservation techniques were presented as part of the first two “Cemenars.”

The objective of this year’s event was to educate the public on public policy issues relating to cemetery protection laws and collect stakeholder views on what needs to be improved concerning these issues in New Jersey (i.e. suggested broad common sense legislative initiatives).

A wide variety of stakeholders were invited to participate and representatives from the following groups responded:  County Clerk’s Office, local municipalities, NJ State Senate, the NJ Cemetery Association, The Hunterdon County Historical Society, local historians, and members of the public with particular preservation concerns.

Keynote Speaker Lance Ashworth & Organizer Dave Reading

The event consisted of two parts: a seminar in morning and a workshop in the afternoon. The seminar was introduced by the keynote speaker, Lance Ashworth, president of the Fishkill Supply Depot Restoration project, followed by a presentation by Bob Leith of the Hunterdon County Historical Society of several case histories of cemeteries destroyed or impacted by statutory deficiencies or neglectful enforcement.  Art Rittenhouse, representing the Hendricks(on) Family Association, presented a summary of the destruction and reconstruction of the Beau Ridge Townhouse Development off S. Laurel Ave. Holmdel, NJ. The morning session closed with a Q&A with attorney Michael V. Camerino, Esq. Mr. Camerino took questions from the attendees following case histories. Most of the questions were related to private property access and planning board decisions.

 Michael Camerino, Esq.

A brief survey of other state’s law and a presentation of a law category framework presented by David Reading, Executive Director of the Mount Amwell Project provided the inspiration for the workshop- the focus of the afternoon session.

Workshop table 1

Workshop participants separated into breakout groups, discussed and selected options, and assigned priorities of several categories of law pertaining to historic cemeteries guided by a prepared workbook.

Workshop table 2

 

 

 

 

David R. Reading

Executive Director

The Mount Amwell Project, Inc.

 

Dave.reading@mtamwell.org

908-236-0276