Sunday, August 16, 2009

Condo Vs. Cemetery... Condo Wants Property AND Ability To Dictate Other's Land Usage

An article by Ben Rubin at discusses a cemetery that plans to extend the usage of their land to make room for more plots, but unfortunately a condominium complex that shares a property line is upset by this decision because the residents do not want to look at gravestones. The condominium owners were happy looking at the planted trees that the cemetery owners have planted as a buffer.

The condominium's solution is simple... sue the cemetery, claiming rightful ownership of the property, due to a concept in common law called "adverse possession". This is when the title of another's property is acquired without compensation. In this particular situation, the land in question is owned by the cemetery, but the condominium is claiming that they should be the rightful owner.

Apparently, after conducting a survey, the condominium had discovered that they had constructed part of their parking lot on cemetery land, in addition to maintaining a plot located on the border of the property, measuring 60' by 400'. The cemetery trustee, David Mcleod, had stated that the cemetery plans on using "every inch of land that's usable," while a resident from the condominium had absurdly stated that that they don't "think that they need to build out so much and have so much space". Imagine someone telling you that you cannot build on your property because you don't need "so much space"... A comment on the article by a homeowner even goes on to state that the "small strip of land was on the original site plan approved with the county. At no time was it apparent that Oakhill was right next to us. Our common property is separated from the cemetary by the large Nyack Hospital parking lot and a strip of protected woodlands." They also go on to state that the "cemetary has not been in contact with us about a fence as the article implies"... apparently someone had made a mistake somewhere in their drawings, but as I have learned, you can file anything with the county, regardless of whether it is correct. I also think it to be humorous that they feel the cemetery should talk to the condo about erecting a fence on the cemetery's property!

There is the classic argument made by residents of HOAs and condominiums and that is "if you don't like it, move." I have heard this comment made by many of my neighbors when I have raised a couple issues, but unfortunately, those same people feel that any change around them is also theirs to control. The cemetery by all rights should have the condominium's parking lot removed from their property, or make some arrangement for the association to buy or rent the property, instead of the condo dictating to the cemetery what they can do with their own property. If they are afraid of property values declining, maybe they should pack their bags before some gravestones start heading their way towards the border, and had anybody considered the thoughts of the recently deceased? Do they really want to spend eternity looking up at a condo?


  1. When you say "Do they really want to spend eternity looking up at a condo?" Are you implying they are in hell looking up? Or simply looking up from their graves, instead of resting in Heaven.

  2. I was implying they were looking up from their placement 6-feet under... not their metaphysical location.

  3. I am the homeowner who commented on the article posted by the paper.

    There is a full city block between our area and the cemetery, filled with woods and a large parking lot that goes almost all the way up the hill.

    The land survey was done by the cemetery, not us. No title search by prospective buyers ever brought up the land conflict. The cemetery did not contact us in the 20 years we have been there.

    In that period we maintained and paid taxes on the property under the assumption it was really ours. There is also a 15 ft wide water department right-of-way up the entire property line which the cemetery proposes to build a road over.

    We are not trying to dictate to anyone. We tried to discuss a solution with the cemetery,which included purchase or some reasonable amount of greenspace, but they refused to meet with us. Adverse possession is a legal basis as we openly maintained the land.

    Again, I note we did so because we thought it WAS our land, not doing anything underhanded. We were the ones, not the cemetery, who planted the trees and maintained the road and grassy area over the last 20 years.

    Please understand there are two sides to every story and do not assign to us the villain role. Thank you.


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