Building a new cemetery is not as easy as Row 1, Row 2, and Row 3 anymore


I’m old enough to remember that one of the earliest cries for increased cremation was that cemeteries will soon take up too much space in America.  A rebuttal to that thought back in the 1980’s was always the quote “. . .if everyone in America died today we could bury them in 1/3 the land mass of the state of Rhode Island”.


Now, I don’t have any idea if the math works out for that and that is a true statement.  However, the function of that statement was simply to debunk the idea that the United States would run out of burial space for our deceased citizens.


The reality of that statement, however, is that most American families want their loved ones who choose traditional casketed burial to be buried someplace that is in proximity to the survivors and not in some remote area that can never be visited.  Further reality to that statement is that there are metropolitan areas of the United States that are very scarce in “close proximity” burial options.


This article from San Jose Spotlight illustrates the problems with trying to build a new cemetery in a metropolitan area during the 21st Century.  Evidently, Service Corporation International (SCI) has located a 102 acre property that they wish to develop into what they call Heritage Oaks Memorial Park which, according to the article, would include a funeral home, chapel, office, parking, masuoleums, cremtorium, maintenance building, and connecting roads.


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

A practical business and economic idea and funded with private capital, the reality is that getting the cemetery approved by government agencies may prove to the most difficult task for SCI.  The linked article states that SCI and/or their representatives have “collaborated closely” with San Jose and its Envision 2040 General Plan.


However, there is pushback from local environmentsalists who, according to the article say:

  • Extensive grading will flatten out the ridge line in an area critical for wildlife habitat
  • Flood and groundwater protection will be affected
  • Agriculture and climate will be affected
  • Fragmenting a lanscape is very detrimental to wildlife connectivity


On the other hand, the article points out that those working with SCI on the project state that “the design of the cemetery itself will not obstruct wildlife“, “where else is there 100 acres of land to build a cemetery?“,  and “a new cemetery has not been built in San Jose in 134 years and the existing ones are reaching capacity”.


All in all, a well written article that documents the issues and priorities of both sides of the issue.  Without playing favorite the article also gives one a little bit of an understanding of all the hoops that increasing regulation causes on development and businesses.


RelatedA very interesting article from the San Jose Mercury News that discusses this proposition and in the article states “the proposal is facing fierce resistance from local environmental groups . . . “


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