Charleston looks at adding new city regulations for building on burial sites
preservation-admin , July 12, 2021
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – A push is now underway to get new regulations on the books in the City of Charleston to protect unmarked or abandoned graveyards and cemeteries.
“We don’t have a lot of municipal ordinances to look at. By and large this has been left to state law,” said Brian Turner, director of advocacy at the Preservation Society of Charleston. “When it comes to human burials, there is an added reason why the common decent person should care about that issue. No one wants to be digging in their garden and dig up human bones. That’s not an enjoyable experience. Basic planning will allow us to avoid unfortunate incidents.”
The Preservation Society renewed its effort to get a new regulation after two African American burial sites were discovered at 88 Smith Street. The homeowner had begun renovation work on the property that potentially could have disturbed some of those graves. Last week, the City of Charleston ordered the work to be stopped citing permit issues.
“It’s important to recognize that this is not the first instance that the city has been made aware in recent years of really high profile cases . . . the College of Charleston’s library project, the Gilliard Center and, most recently, in Cainhoy Village where there has been a threat to an African American cemetery,” Turner said. “The preservation society is particularly concerned given the pressures for growth in the region that unmarked and unmaintained, abandoned cemeteries are under a significant threat.”