When a religious or educational corporation or society holds lands within the limits of a municipal corporation which have been used as a cemetery, and interments in such lands have been prohibited by the ordinances of such municipal corporation, the trustees, wardens, vestry, or other officers entrusted with the management of the property of such corporation or society may file a petition in the court of common pleas of the county where such property is situated, setting forth a description of such property, the existence of such ordinance, and the names of all persons holding burial privileges in such cemetery, so far as known to the petitioners. If such privileges are held by persons whose names are unknown to such petitioners, the petition must also include the facts as to such privileges, and requests for the court's determination of their value, for its direction as to the removal of the bodies interred in such cemetery to other cemeteries, and for an order to sell such property free from burial privileges.
Notice of the filing of such petition shall be given by publication in some newspaper published in and of general circulation in the county where it is filed, for four consecutive weeks, setting forth the object and prayer of the petition, and that any persons claiming an interest in its subject matter or claiming burial privileges in such cemetery may appear and file an answer to such petition within six weeks from the date of the first publication of such notice. After said six weeks have elapsed, the case will stand for hearing.
Upon final hearing of the case, the court, with or without the aid of a jury, as the parties appearing elect, shall determine the value of such burial privileges, and shall order the corporation or society to pay any amount so ascertained to the holder of such privilege. The court may also order the cemetery property sold free from such burial privileges, and may direct a subdivision of it into lots for the purpose of sale. The court shall direct the application of the money arising from such sale to such uses, by such corporation or society, for pious or educational purposes, as its trustees, wardens, vestry, or other officers conceive to be most for its interest. Such sale shall not be made until the bodies interred in the grounds to be sold are removed to other cemeteries, as directed by the court on the final hearing of the case.
A holder of a burial privilege who did not appear in such proceeding, and who has not waived his right to receive compensation for it, may assert his right to receive such compensation from such society or corporation within five years after the final entry of such proceeding.
Effective Date: 10-07-1977