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Cemetery Preservation Commission

About Cemetery Preservation

Burial places, specifically cemeteries, are the most visible public remnants of a community’s history. As public documents of human occupation, cemeteries serve as records of a community’s roots. They not only embody the community’s history but also are proof of its members' pride of place. They provide evidence of the struggles to continue on in the face of adversity from generation to generation.

The community that truly values its heritage will make a strong fight to ensure its future.

Report Cemetery Damage

Cemetery Preservation Information

About the Commission

The Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Commission is a volunteer commission created by the Board of Commissioners to provide a uniform procedure for the identification, preservation, protection, and maintenance of cemeteries, graveyards, and burial grounds. The unprecedented growth and development of Cobb County has caused the loss of many old cemeteries.

The Cemetery Preservation Commission has a broad scope and numerous means of encouraging the preservation of cemeteries. These include assisting with the creation of a new state law and local ordinance regarding cemetery preservation, developing educational programs, and tourism sites.

The Cemetery Preservation Commission meets the first Monday of every month. The meetings are held at the Switzer Library, located at 266 Roswell Street, Marietta at 6PM.

Protection Through Laws and Ordinances

The continued preservation of neglected and abandoned cemeteries needs not be a burden to taxpayers. In Cobb County, a partnership has developed between government officials and the Cemetery Preservation Commission, which encourages residents to understand and preserve these non-renewable cultural resources. State Law O.C.G.A. 36-72, 1 - 16, et. Seq. {Georgia's new cemetery preservation law} was based on the Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Ordinance. It replaced the old cemetery law (36-60-6), which did not sufficiently protect cemeteries or provide for proper notification of descendants when a burial removal was being considered.

The Cemetery Preservation Commission plays an important role in the private development process. The Commission reviews all plans, zoning and variance requests, and assists developers in working out creative solutions to ensure that cemeteries can be preserved.

View Cobb County's Official Code of Ordinance (chapter 26) to learn more.

Adopt-A-Cemetery Program

In addition to supporting the creation of a new state law and encouraging enforcement of the local ordinance, the Cemetery Preservation Commission protects and preserves cemeteries through the Adopt-A-Cemetery Program.

This program is designed to preserve and protect our heritage for future generations. Local organizations, church groups, scouts, and individuals are encouraged to adopt a cemetery in their community. The adopting group holds a monthly schedule of maintenance to preserve the dignity of the cemetery. Many of these cemeteries have suffered abandonment and neglect primarily because families passed or moved away. As a result, newer generations have limited or no knowledge of the location of the old family/community burial grounds.

Cemetery ownership, descendant's rights, and involvement by concerned citizens are complex issues in present day Georgia Low. Research indicated the adopting group and the property owner/guardian should coordinate their efforts through the CCCPC. The laws must be honored by each party to insure the dignity of the cemetery.

The CCCPC feels this adoption program will restore and preserve our heritage and we look forward to your participation. 

Adopt-A-Cemetery Rules and Regulations

The Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Commission(CCCPC) Requirements:

  1. All adopting organizations must sign an Adopt-A-Cemetery Program Agreement.
  2. CCCPC will have final approval on all cemeteries adopted.
  3. Adopting organizations must perform a general restoration/clean-up once a month November through March and twice a month April through October.
  4. Option to renew agreement after one year.

I- The Cobb Cemetery Preservation Commission will furnish: 

  1. Preliminary Procedures for Cleaning Non-Perpetual Cemeteries.
  2. Coordinate removal of litter bags and brush.
  3. Assistance as deemed necessary.
  4. Provide sign after first clean-up.

II - Adopting Organization:

  1. Participants must be at least 6 years of age.
  2. Commercial organizations cannot display any product I.D., address or phone number.
  3. All organizations must be approved for the Adopt-A-Cemetery Program.
  4. Must complete Adopt-A-Cemetery Status Report and forward to the CCCPC after each clean-up.
  5. If adopting organization fails to perform satisfactorily to Adopt-A-Cemetery Rules and Regulations, they will be removed from the program.

III - Safety:

CCCPC will advise and assist with safety as deemed necessary.

The adopting organization will:

  1. Car-pool to cemeteries if possible to keep vehicles to a minimum.
  2. Park vehicles clear of roadway.
  3. Keep work groups to a manageable size.
  4. Provide close supervision of youth groups.
  5. Do not remove any hazardous material.
  6. Stay clear of construction areas.
  7. Hold safety meeting with group prior to clean-up.
  8. Do not clean-up during inclement weather or hours of darkness.
  9. Be aware of possible contact with poisonous plants, stinging insects, fireants and snakes.
  10. Consider all known allergies before participants are allowed to take part in clean-up.
  11. Be aware that alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
  12. Know you are working in a possible hazardous environment and act accordingly.

Procedures for Cleaning a Non-Perpetual Care Cemetery

The Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Commission (CCCPC) has adopted the following procedures that must be complied with before beginning work on any cemetery.

  1. The CCCPC must be notified twenty (20) days in advance of intentions by any non-descendant person or group (henceforth named party) planning a restoration/clean-up of a non-perpetual care cemetery. This will allow the CCCPC and the party time to organize the procedures listed below.
  2. The CCCPC will determine the owner/guardian of the cemetery and contact that person(s) for written permission to clean the cemetery. It is recommended that the party become an applicant to adopt the cemetery.
  3. After the CCCPC has reviewed the request, the party and the CCCPC will schedule an on-site meeting to discuss the procedures of the actual clean-up plan. A copy of the procedures will be given to the party. These methods will be adhered to as they are in accordance with state law.
  4. The CCCPC will define the burial boundaries; limitation of clean-up; unusual features such as fieldstone marked graves, brick lined borders, depressions, etc., and trees and brush which may be cleared. The manner in which the trees and undergrowth may be disposed will also be clarified.
  5. After acceptance of the cemetery clean-up plan, the party will submit a schedule indicating the estimated start and completion dates to the CCCPC. The CCCPC will assist, inspect and provide direction for the project.
  6. Upon review and approval of the plan by the CCCPC, the project may proceed. On completion of the clean-up, the CCCPC will conduct a final inspection to insure the area is improved, well marked and no graves or gravesites have been damaged.
  7. The party should submit a written report outlining the project and may include a history of the cemetery and the persons interred therein if desired. This report will become part if the CCCPC’s permanent cemetery file, which will become a reference source.

Upon final approval, the CCCPC will provide the party with official recognition from the Cobb County Board of Commissioners for their part in returning the cemetery to its original state of dignity.

Onsite Procedure for Cemetery Clean Up / Restoration

There is to be absolutely no subsurface disturbance at any time within the established boundaries and buffers of the cemetery.

There is to be absolutely no disturbance of any stones whether they are carved headstones or fieldstone markers, brick or stone borders unless directed by and under the supervision of the CCCPC.

Small trees designated for removal will be marked by the CCCPC. This will be done at the first on-site meeting between the parties and will be thoroughly explained, understood and agreed upon by all parties.

Methods for removing obnoxious weeds and shrubs will be shown to the clean-up group by the CCCPC. The climbing vines and those with runners will be snipped into short sections and carefully pulled. They will not be yanked in long runners as they can upset a fieldstone or rock/brick border.

Repairs and/or refurbishing of any fencing used to border a cemetery may not be done only upon approval of the CCCPC. No repair, removal, replacement or addition of fences or other means of enclosure will be allowed unless agreement has been reached and permission to proceed has been given by the CCCPC.

Location of graves will be marked so as to avoid damage to them during clean-up.

Please maintain an attitude of respect for those persons who are buried in these cemeteries. Do not sit on headstones or leave paper/food trash scattered.

The following tools, supplies and equipment will be acceptable for use in the cleaning procedures:

Suggestions:

  • Leaf Blowers
  • Axes
  • Chain Saws
  • Leaf (broom) Rakes
  • Lopping Shears
  • Hand Trimmers (i.e., rose trimmers)
  • Plastic Bags (for leaf collection)

The following tools and equipment will not be acceptable in any way for the cleaning procedures:

  • Tractors
  • Heavy Equipment
  • Rototillers
  • Trowels, Shovels or Digging Apparatus
  • Steel Tooth Rakes

Take time to read the inscriptions on the headstones, record the information from the stones and describe the style (square, rectangle, obelisk, octagon, etc.) and material they are constructed from (granite, marble, agate, cement fieldstone, brick, wood, etc.) if you so choose. Lookup the names in the local history and genealogical books available at our county libraries and learn a little about these early residents of Cobb County. Read about the burial customs used during the time of their demise. The CCCPC will greatly appreciate copies of any reports of information gathered. This information will be put on file with the official documentation concerning the cemetery site.

Cemeteries are a non-renewable cultural resource in that we do not have the ability (by law) to pick out a pretty spot or favorite place and start our own family cemetery. We must be interred in an established perpetual care facility. So let’s take care of these unique pieces of history and please take pride in yourself for having cared enough to help those who came before us and started this place called Cobb.

Adopt-A-Cemetery Q&A

What is Adopt-A-Cemetery?

The Adopt-A-Cemetery Program is sponsored by the Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Commission to involve the public in the preservation of one or out non-renewable cultural resources - our cemeteries. 

Neglected cemeteries are not governed by the 1983 Georgia Cemetery Act. Many have been lost to progress, uninformed development, vandalism, and the passage of time. This program is designed to preserve our heritage for future generations. 

Who can adopt a cemetery?

Civic organizations such as Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts/Brownies, church groups, Kiwanis Clubs, Jaycees, high school groups, etc. can adopt a cemetery in their community.

What are the responsibilities of the adopting organization?

The adopting organization will have the responsibility of sustaining a monthly schedule of maintenance to preserve the dignity of the cemetery. The organization will follow the Preliminary Procedures for Cleaning Non-perpetual Care Cemeteries.

What are the responsibilities of the property owner/guardian?

The landlord will grant permission for the daylight ingress and egress to the cemetery for the purpose of maintenance, history, and visitation.

What are the responsibilities of the Cobb County Cemetery Preservation Commission (CCCPC)?

The CCCPC will:

  • Determine the owner/guardian of the cemetery and obtain that person(s) permission to clean the cemetery
  • Act as a coordinator between the adopting organization and the property owner/guardian
  • Conduct media coverage to inform the public of the program and provide assistance in carrying out the overall plan
What is the status of liability?

The CCCPC, property owner/guardian, and the adopting organization understand that all activity within the cemetery is strictly on a volunteer basis, and that none of the above named parties are liable for any injuries incurred while working in the cemetery.

What are the safety precautions for volunteers?

All adopting groups will conduct safety meetings with the volunteers to discuss the possible dangers of cleaning a cemetery such as insect bites, poison ivy, etc.

How does an organization adopt a cemetery?

Any interested group should submit a written request by mail to:

Cobb County Community Development Agency
Cemetery Preservation Commission
Restoration and Maintenance Committee
P.O. Box 649
Marietta, GA 30061