A family in Pennsylvania lost their precious baby boy last August. The child had a rare liver disease, and died at the tender age of ten months. The family, overwhelmed with medical bills and unable to afford a burial plot, buried their son in their backyard--a perfectly legal option at the time. It's what's happened since then that is so shocking:
A Colebrookdale Township man who had his 10-month-old son buried at home said Wednesday that grief and financial troubles have prevented him from complying with township demands for a zoning waiver.Read the rest here.
"I chose to do this version of home burial because he's very young," James A. Dodson explained. "I can't even describe the sadness. We simply couldn't afford to go buy a plot."
Dodson was reacting to an article in Wednesday's Reading Eagle about the Colebrookdale commissioners' decision to cite him due to delays in pursuing a zoning waiver.
The commissioners have said they are not against the private burial but that certain conditions must be met because the residential property is not zoned as a cemetery.
Dodson said he and his wife, Chantal, are "barely making ends meet" and can't afford the zoning application fee, which he said is $650.
He said the couple's financial problems are caused by medical bills exceeding $30,000 for their son, Jesse Alexander Dodson, who was diagnosed with a liver condition at birth. The child died in August, and Dodson said the family didn't have enough money to bury him in a cemetery.
Township officials have known about the burial for months, and in November the board enacted an ordinance making it unlawful to bury a deceased person anywhere in Colebrookdale other than a cemetery.
Although the Dodson burial preceded the ordinance, the township still wants zoning conditions met, including provisions to maintain and mark the burial site. The Dodsons also would need an access easement to visit the site if the property is sold.
So, after the family buried their son, the township commissioners passed a law making home burials illegal (something that would have shocked our liberty-loving founders, I'm sure, since home burials have a long and honorable history). Then, legally unable to exert their will on the family whose child had already been buried in this way, they have proceeded to insist on a zoning waver and money the family doesn't have to spare, adding injury to the terrible grief the family is already suffering.
We sometimes say jokingly that our nanny state government is involved in its citizens' lives "from the cradle to the grave." We may have to add, "...and beyond" to that phrase, since even the grave of this tiny child isn't left undisturbed by the greedy and pinching hand of government authority.
There is no reason at all for the township to interfere with this family, but in our present reality, government interferes for interference's sake, and needs no other reason for its pettifogging smallness and blind trampling over the kinds of liberties our ancestors took for granted.