SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Sweetwater is proposing changes to its 2014 Cemetery Ordinance. The ordinance would update to now allow concrete curbing with a separate permit and fee required.
Director of Planning and Operations for Sweetwater, Lynn Barrett, told KTAB/KRBC the idea to update the ordinance came from a local family.
“A family came to the cemetery board and to council, and requested this to be changed in the ordinance, where they were prohibited in 2014, to allow them to put those on a loved ones grave,” Barrett explained.
She continued to clarify, adding the cemetery board thought it was a great idea to help make it easier for groundskeepers to keep things neat and clean in respect of the cemetery’s residents.
“Maintenance of our cemetery requires city employees to use weed eaters and mowers, and that’s the ground level requirement,” said Barrett. “But also, when they weed eat and people are placing gravel on graves, items like balloons, solar lights they become non-maintained and fly away.”
With the update, the board decided to enforce rules set in 2014 in the ordinance to help keep things clean. In the 2014 ordinance, no construction was permitted on cemetery lots. Items like fencing, wood and brick coverings, benches, chairs, tables, and other similar items are not permitted on cemetery lots.
“They wanted provisions in there for enforcements so that people could understand it’s an allowance of something that will beautify the cemetery,” Barrett told KTAB/KRBC.
Seasonal items may be placed on gravesites three weeks ahead of a holiday, but must be removed three weeks thereafter. However, Barrett said items placed on gravesites before the 2014 ordinance would not be removed.
Lea Cleveland of Sweetwater said she often visits her dad’s gravesite at the cemetery, where he’s resided since 2004. Over the years, she said the cemetery has expanded and grown to include more plots.
“Because its a new area, it seems that there’s more decorations, but its a matter of choice,” shared Cleveland.
The rules, Cleveland said, could help keep things clean, but it may be difficult to enforce. Overall, she said she believes everyone should decorate as they wish.
“I also understand the need to show love and show your culture, and show that you care,” Cleveland leveled.
Another resident who wished to remain anonymous told KTAB/KRBC they felt angry about the situation because they want to honor their loved ones.
“I feel strongly about it. It angers me. This is Sweetwater Cemetery, we should have a say. We paid for our plots and I feel like we should have the right to do what we choose on it,” added the anonymous source.
Signage of the 2014 ordinance has been placed at the cemetery for years, but Barrett said the board will add additional signage and inform those who purchase a plot about the updates.
The only major change visitors should expect is that the cemetery will now allow concrete curbing.
Sweetwater’s City Council is expected to hear another reading of the revisions Tuesday, August 8.