OREM — The grassy cemetery hill on Orem's east bench is filling up quickly, leaving some family members to ask that mom and dad be moved closer to the rest of the family.

"When people come up to bury someone, they want to be by their family members," said Alan Sundquist, Orem's cemetery sexton. "They want to disinter people buried all along back in the cemetery, to way out to the front. They want to bring everybody closer."

But those disinterment requests — although not many — mean extra work for the already busy cemetery sexton and his assistants.

Some of those requests have been distances as small as 100 feet, Sundquist said.

"(It's a) time-consuming thing, and the hazard in doing that, it's just getting pretty tough," he said.

To address those concerns, the Orem City Council recently clarified the city code dealing with the cemetery and disinterments.

"Sometimes they've been in there for many, many, many years," said Steve Webber, maintenance division manager for Orem. "Somebody figures they don't want them buried in that spot anymore and want to move them. We've

never had any regulations, policy or outline on how (disinterments) have to be dealt with."

A decade ago, Sundquist said they would average one request a year. Now it's more like five or six, which prior to the ordinance change, were simply granted.

Now, Sundquist can say "no" if there are concerns regarding the condition of the soil, the casket or any other public health concerns — which some people may not consider, he said.

"They think that (a casket) lasts forever," Sundquist said. "Anytime you put something in the ground, it's going to deteriorate the moment you put them in the ground. Age will take its toll."

Dean Judd, sexton at the private cemetery, East Lawn Memorial Hills at 4800 N. 650 East in Orem, said they have very few requests for disinterments. But when they do, they always suggest moving a headstone instead.

Families can also buy a second headstone, allowing all the family's names to be in the same area without actual disinterment.

To decrease liability issues, Orem will now require families to hire their own vault company to come in and remove the casket and transport it to its new home. A mortician is also called in to supervise the event.

Along with the permits from the Utah County Health Department and the disinterment fees, the family must also have permission from all members.

"It's something that can be pretty tough if they don't notify all the family members," Sundquist said. "I'd hate to be the one to (visit) mom and dad's grave, but see that brother and sister had moved them (somewhere) else. My feeling on it is, mom and dad chose the spot, they chose the spot together for a reason — they liked it there. That's what they chose, so honor that and respect mom and dad's decision."


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