DIXFIELD – Thanks to a unanimous vote Monday night by the Board of Selectmen, the price of burial lots in five town-owned cemeteries increased.

Grave opening fees also rose and the number of cremated remains (cremains) allowed, doubled per lot when the board adopted proposed new rules and regulation changes drafted by the Cemetery Restoration Committee.

No one, including committee member Kathy Martin who presented the proposed amendments, could remember when selectmen last addressed cemetery regulations and lot prices.

Martin said the changes were necessary due mainly to the increase in costs associated with cemetery maintenance.

According to the amended regulations, cemetery lots will now only be sold with the addition of perpetual care fees. Lots may be purchased as:

• One-space lot (one casket or two cremains) – $100 plus $100 perpetual care = $200.

• Two-space lot (two casket burials or four cremains) – $200 plus $200 perpetual care = $400.

• Four-space lot (four casket burials or eight cremains) – $400 plus $400 perpetual care = $800.

“I spoke with Todd Piper, our sexton, and he said the increase in lot prices are in agreement with the lot prices the towns in our area are getting,” committee member Charlotte Collins stated in a memo to selectmen and Town Manager Nanci Allard.

The town of Dixfield maintains and operates various cemeteries to provide sites for the burial of those persons choosing to purchase lot rights in said cemeteries and to provide, as a public entity, long-term care and maintenance for the cemeteries.

Fees for opening a grave for a standard vault increased from $250 to $300 for burial in Science Hill, Severy Hill, Holman, Greenwood or Riverside cemeteries. Fees for a small vault (infant) and cremains increased from $75 to $100.

Other changes:

• Shrubs and flowers are restricted to non-spreading varieties.

• Pruning and stone maintenance added under perpetual care.

• Town manager’s authority added in several places.

Martin, who spent several hours last year pruning and cleaning up the town’s overgrown cemeteries, said people had placed plants on their lots that spread into adjacent lots, and, in some instances, completely obscured or damaged other gravestones.

Selectman Chairman Hugh Daley said he found two such stones at Riverside Cemetery buried under brush and uprooted it immediately, then reseeded the lots.

An effort is currently underway to determine if gravestones are missing in Holman and Severy Hill cemeteries after cleanup and pruning work revealed possible ambiguities, Martin said.

No trees or hedges may now be planted on any lot.

“Whatever is there now will be grandfathered,” she added.

The planting of non-spreading varieties of flowers and shrubbery (four feet or less in height) of a type approved by the town must now be done in locations approved by the Board of Selectmen or town manager.

And if the flowers and shrubberies are not, in the town manager’s opinion, properly maintained by the lot owner, the shrubbery and flowers will be removed by the town.

A burial vault will also be required for all burials other than cremains, the amended rules state.

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