When the owners of any private graveyard, not connected with any church or church property, abandon the graveyard and allow it to fall into a condition of neglect and disuse, so that it is unsightly and thereby lessens the desirability and value of adjacent land, and the owners fail or refuse, when requested by the owner of adjacent land or when requested by the local governing body of the county, city or town wherein the private graveyard is located, to remedy such condition of neglect and put the graveyard into suitable condition, then any owner of adjacent land or the local governing body may file a bill in equity in the circuit court of the county or city wherein the graveyard is located, for the purpose of requiring the graveyard to be placed in a suitable condition. The owners of the graveyard or any person having a right therein shall be made defendants to such court proceedings.
The court shall not enter an order requiring the owners of a graveyard in which a grave or entombment right has never been sold to improve it or place it in a suitable condition. However, after hearing the evidence the court may allow the petitioners, at their own expense, to improve the graveyard and place it in suitable condition and may also require bond to ensure that the petitioners will not injure or remove any tomb, monument, gravestone, grave marker, or vault without having first obtained court approval. Acting pursuant to court order, the petitioners may thereafter enter upon the land and improve the graveyard and place it in suitable condition. The costs in any case involving a graveyard in which a grave or entombment right has never been sold shall be paid by the petitioners.
In any case involving a graveyard in which a grave or entombment right has been sold, the court shall determine whether the owners or petitioners shall pay the costs of improving the graveyard and may require bond to insure against injury or removal of any tomb, monument, gravestone, grave marker, or vault without court approval.
1950, p. 91; 1986, c. 55; 1990, c. 675 .