Montgomery Planning Board Approves the County Burial Sites Inventory and Guidelines on May 16

May 20, 2019

Survey and procedures for maintaining and preserving county cemeteries and burial sites will help preserve and protect these historic resources

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), formally adopted the Burial Sites Inventory and Guidelines from the Montgomery County Planning Department on May 16, 2019.

The Planning Department has created an online questionnaire in order to better understand how people are using the information in the inventory and the public’s questions and concerns. The survey will be available through June 21.

To access the survey in English, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VRKKVQ2

To access the survey in Spanish, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VSFDVHF

As required by county ordinance 33A-17, the Montgomery County Planning Board must maintain an inventory of cemeteries and sites “where human remains were buried in the earth or entombed in a mausoleum or a columbarium.”

The purpose of this inventory and the guidelines is to preserve and protect identified burial sites during the preliminary plan stage of the parcel subdivision process, as overseen by the Planning Board. Montgomery Planning’s Historic Preservation Office is responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory, providing guidelines for archaeological investigations and engaging the community in the process of identifying and preserving sites.

Since initially presenting the inventory and guidelines to the Planning Board in February 2019, the Historic Preservation Office held outreach events in March and April 2019 at locations in Silver Spring, Germantown and Olney to solicit feedback and comments from the public. A map of the burial sites inventory, with GIS and attribute data, is available on the Montgomery County Planning Department website.

Learn more about the burial sites inventory.

About the Burial Sites Inventory

Formal efforts to inventory cemeteries in Montgomery County began in 2004. They were supported by grants from the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission and sponsored by Peerless Rockville with financial assistance from Historic Takoma, Inc. and the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites.

In 2018, Montgomery Preservation, Inc., a countywide nonprofit historic preservation organization, undertook a survey of cemeteries and burial sites in Montgomery County. Dozens of volunteers visited all of the 266 cemeteries identified during earlier surveys between 2004 and 2010, and conducted historical research to identify more burial sites, bringing the total to 322 sites. Preservation Montgomery developed survey forms and protocols, and trained volunteers in recording GPS coordinates, taking standardized photographs and completing detailed description forms.

This effort produced an extensive and reliable inventory of cemeteries and burial sites across the county that will provide the basis for protecting these sites. Furthermore, by developing simple forms and documentation procedures, Montgomery Preservation, Inc. created a template that could be easily and effectively used in the future to survey additional burial sites in the county and elsewhere in the state.

On January 31, 2019, at the 44th Maryland Preservation Awards event in Annapolis, MD, the Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees honored the burial sites inventory with its Excellence in Community Engagement Award. The inventory is among 11 outstanding efforts in historic preservation that were recognized at the event. Visit the Maryland Historical Trust’s website to learn more about the program and view videos about the awards.

For more information, contact Brian Crane at brian.crane@montgomeryplanning.org or 301-562-3402.