Photo by the Associated Press
There has recently been a controversial legal case in the news where a Vermont man purchased an old farmstead and wants to build a house on the site of an old family cemetery. Because the cemetery holds the grave of a veteran of the War of 1812 and his family, the proposed move of the cemetery to accomodate the prospective new owner’s wishes to use the site for his new house has created a firestorm of controversy. Once again, the bottom line seems to be property owners’ rights versus the historic interest of the general public. Not dissimilar to battlefield preservation efforts (but on a much smaller scale), this battle promises to be of considerable interest to ACW preservation buffs and anyone else interested in the topic of preservation.
The new owner bought the property on the contingency that he would be allowed to relocate the cemetery, although it is not clear exactly how many people are interred in the site. He is claiming individual rights as a property owner. The preservationists have been joined by a family member, who does not the land and her ancestors disturbed.
What do you think? Should the government allow the man to move the cemetery and build whatever he wants on his own land? Or, should the man be forced to keep the cemetery where it is, thereby negating his purchase contract? Or, what compromise would you suggest?