Highland couple asks city to allow them to bury husband in back yard when he dies

Posted at 6:11 PM, Nov 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-18 20:13:32-05

HIGHLAND, Utah – Should you have the right to bury your loved one on property you own, like your back yard? That’s a dilemma facing the Highland City Council.

Steven and Susan Ledkins sent a letter to leaders October 9th. They write that Steven’s health isn’t good. He’s going to discontinue dialysis treatments, but, before he does, he asks if the city would grant approval for them to dedicate a certain piece of their property as a private family cemetery.

The couple purchased the home in 1991 and paid it off, so they don’t plan on selling it.

“We have a high respect for private property rights,” said Erin Wells, public information officer for Highland City.

Wells said they’ve never received such a request, but they’re willing to consider it.

“Our current municipal code dictates that burials that can take place in Highland City have to be in our Highland City Cemetery,” Wells said.

While the city code doesn’t allow for private cemeteries, Highland has one. Five members of the Poole family, Highland’s early settlers, are buried at a cemetery. The Highland Historical Society is talking to the city about opening the Pioneer Cemetery to the public.

“It is such a historical site, important to Highland,” said Charlie Greenland, President of the Highland Historical Society.

In the Ledkin’s case, this is not a typical private cemetery, but one they would use for a personal family burial. Some city leaders are OK with updating the code, but others worry that people could turn their private cemeteries into businesses.

Wells said: “Our city council had concerns with what happens to this 50 years from now: If we were to have a cemetery on private property, what about access rights? What about upkeep of a cemetery? What about future property owners?”

Wells points out that a family would need to record a cemetery plot with the county so it will be on county land records, so nothing falls through the cracks.

City leaders are working out the details and plan to make the Ledkin’s wish a reality.

The council is expected to make a decision on December 1.