Nevada City mulls historic cemetery handoff to county agency |

Nevada City mulls historic cemetery handoff to county agency

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Members of Nevada City’s planning commission are tasked with determining today whether a proposal to transfer ownership and maintenance of the town’s oldest historic cemetery to a Nevada County agency aligns with the town’s long-term guiding policies.

The proposal in question calls for the Nevada Cemetery District to take over Pioneer Cemetery at a cost to the city of $2,000 a year for two decades.

Located on West Broad Street, Pioneer Cemetery is the city’s oldest burial ground.

It boasts as many as 400 graves on close to two acres that date back to the 1850s, including those of Aaron A. Sargent, William Alphonse Sutter (son of the famous General Sutter of Sutter’s Mill) and Henry Meredith, according to a February report prepared by City Attorney Hal DeGraw.

“The city and volunteers have done some cleanups and made several attempts to restore the dignity of (Pioneer) cemetery, but the city has been generally unable to appropriately care for and maintain the property on an ongoing basis,” DeGraw reported. “And it has been in a state of disrepair for some time.”

The matter was pulled from the council’s Feb. 27 agenda as the planning commission had not decided at its Feb. 21 meeting whether the proposed transfer fits with the city’s general plan.

That document that sets forth policies and goals that reflect a range of competing interests regarding disparate issues and addresses all aspects of future growth, development and conservation within a city, noted DeGraw in a memo to the commission.

Whether Nevada City should re-arrange its budget to maintain the cemetery or if the town would receive fair compensation for the transfer are not issues for the planning commission, but would instead be vetted subsequently by the city council, DeGraw noted in the memo.

A project is consistent with a general plan if it furthers those objectives and policies and does not obstruct their attainment, DeGraw points out.

Under the city’s general plan the cemetery is intended to remain for long-term public use, a designation that DeGraw notes would not change under the proposed transfer.

Further, DeGraw notes that the general plan section on historical and cultural resources encourages the city to pursue private efforts at rehabilitation and restoration of such sites.

Founded in 1943, the Nevada Cemetery District is a public agency that owns, maintains and preserves historic cemeteries in the western part of the county for the public.

It operates 27 public cemeteries in western Nevada County.

The organization is funded by a combination of property taxes, sales of interment rights, and service charges and fees and is governed by five-member board appointed by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

The planning commission is scheduled to address the cemetery proposal, as well as other matters, at 1:30 p.m. today at Nevada City Hall, located at 317 Broad Street.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call (530) 477-4236.

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