COVINGTON, Ga. -The Covington City Council denied the relocation of an unmarked cemetery in a 3-2 vote Monday night. Developers of the property plan to reapply as quickly as possible.
With council members Chris Smith, Kenneth Morgan and Hawnethia Williams voting against the cemetery and in favor of the official denial, a majority ruled. Councilwoman Ocie Franklin was absent from Monday night’s meeting due to an illness, making the majority only three votes instead of four.
City Attorney Frank Turner said now that the application for cemetery relocation has been denied, the city has 30 days to provide the applicants with reasons for the denial. He said he would write up the denial reasons and provide them to the council at its next meeting. Once the reasons have been provided to the applicant, the applicant has the option to appeal to the superior court within 30 days. He also said the applicant could reapply at any time.
The applicant is Guardian Angel Assisted Living and Memory Care, LLC, which plans on building an assisted living community on a piece of property located on Eagle Drive.
Many of the concerns raised by council members for the denial revolved around the previous cemetery relocation approved by the city. The city approved its first cemetery relocation in December of last year. That approval was based on the assumption of about a dozen graves being in the Industrial Park Boulevard location. However, once the relocation was approved and started a total of 75 graves were found and therefore relocated.
Steve Webb, president and senior principal archeologist for R.S. Webb & Associates, assured the council that situations like that were extremely rare and grave counts typically only vary slightly from the original estimates.
Rohim Patel, of Guardian Angel Assisted Living and Memory Care, said he plans on reapplying for the cemetery relocation and his development is at a complete standstill until it is approved. He said he was planning on preparing designs for the relocation site, which he said would include a memorial garden, for his next application.