A Berks County man who buried his 10-month-old son in his backyard because he couldn’t afford a burial plot is being cited for zoning violations.
James A. Dodson of Colebrookdale Township told the Reading Eagle that when his infant son, Jesse Alexander Dodson, died in Auguest of a congenital liver condition he and his wife Chantal had more than $30,000 in medical bills. A $650 burial plot was not high on the list of things they could afford.
But after burying their son on their five-acre property, the Dodsons now face zoning violations from the township.
The commissioners in Colebrookdale Township, about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia, said the Dodson family needs a zoning variance in case they move and want to come back to visit the boy's grave. The commissioners say the burial constitutes a zoning violation that could result in daily fines.
“I chose to do this version of home burial because he's very young,” Dodson told the Reading Eagle. “I can't even describe the sadness. We simply couldn't afford to go buy a plot.''
The Dodsons asked the board in December to consider waiving the zoning fee. This week, the board voted to issue a citation, saying that the couple had plenty of time to resolve the issue. The penalty could be up to $500 a day.
“We just need to mark this area, agree how it's going to be marked as a cemetery in perpetuity,” said Jeff Karver, Colebrookdale Township's solicitor. “We sympathize with any parent who loses children and we don't mean to make their situation any more difficult.”
Should one be able to bury a dead person anywhere they please?
FTR I say yes, as long as it is on their own property.