Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart and Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe
to Request New Policy to Improve Community Awareness and Input in Gravesite Relocation Process
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VA . . . In recent days, our offices have heard from numerous concerned county residents regarding the relocation of gravesites found on the site of the soon-to-be-built high school on Route 234 near Hoadly Road in the Coles District. We understand and are sympathetic to these residents’ concerns and during this Tuesday’s Board of County Supervisors’ meeting, will request the establishment of a new County policy to increase the level of community awareness and consultation when gravesites are discovered on land where public facilities are being built.
“We both know that our community cherishes our rich history and that respect for cemeteries is one of our community values. Indeed, Supervisor Nohe and I both own properties on which gravesites are located, and as such, are particularly sensitive to the importance of being a good steward of historic burial sites,” said Chairman Corey Stewart.
We both strongly believe that gravesites should be preserved and protected whenever possible and that they should only be relocated when all other alternatives have been exhausted and it is determined that there are no other viable options. After lengthy conversations with staff from both the County’s Planning office and from the school system, we believe that school officials did exhaust all other options in their determination that the move of the gravesites was in fact necessary.
“Prince William County Historical Commission Cemetery Committee Chairman Bill Olson has done tremendous work in preserving the cemetery on my property as well as several others. He, along with other community volunteers, has a deep commitment to protecting cemeteries,” said Stewart. “We need to allow these experts to work with the community anytime that we even consider moving a gravesite.”
While we are confident that school officials complied with all applicable policies and followed all necessary procedures in a judicious and cautious manner, we fully support the establishment of a County policy which will allow for more community involvement in that process if and when it becomes necessary in the future. During Tuesday’s meeting, we will propose to our colleagues on the Board of County Supervisors that an additional layer of citizen involvement be added whenever County agencies request the exhumation and relocation of a gravesite.
“In Prince William County, we take great pride in our history and our respect for others. Relocating a gravesite should only be considered when no other viable alternatives exist, and we believe that the residents of our community need to be involved in any such considerations to ensure that the appropriate levels of respect and dignity are upheld throughout the decision making process,” said Supervisor Marty Nohe.