Those who want to be buried in Chapel Hill may soon find themselves looking for a different eternal resting place.
“The town maintains four cemeteries, but only the Legion Road Cemetery has plots left,” Jane Slater of the Chapel Hill Cemeteries Advisory Board said.
Slater said the town has approximately 30 spaces left and Chapel Hill expects to run out this year if it doesn’t expand.
There are also 60 spots available for burial urns, but those looking to be buried in a traditional manner might be searching elsewhere for a plot.
“What we really don’t want to have happen is that people have a loved one die and they realize at that point, already a stressful point for them and their families, that they cannot bury their loved one with the rest of the family here in town,” Slater said.
The committee unanimously approved a petition in their meeting at the beginning of the month to ask the town to consider purchasing land to create another cemetery.
Slater said ideally the town could turn that land into a greenspace that could be part cemetery, part park. They made a similar petition in 2013 that the town did not respond to.
“One of the reasons why were at this point is because some additional land adjacent to Memorial Cemetery that was intended for cemetery use, was taken from the town for low-income housing,” she said.
That was done without any exchange of land in another part of town.
But the issue of cemetery space may be even greater in the future, as Chapel Hill’s population continues to age.
“This used to be a little village,” Slater said. “It’s now attracting people who are retiring and wanting to stay. We need to face the situation that we do not have enough space.”
Slater said she’s hopeful that last year’s change in government will also mean new land could be on the way for Chapel Hill cemeteries.