OLIVE BRANCH, MS (abc24.com) - Not so fast. That's the word from a landowner in Olive Branch fighting a plan by a local church to build a new cemetery.
The church has the ok from the city, but it appears that may not be enough.
Olive Branch Mayor Sam Rikard thinks the land next to the West Sandidge Church of Christ is a natural location for a cemetery. The city unanimously approved the church's request to build one.
"My experience is a cemetery's usually well kept and quiet," noted Mayor Rikard. "I certainly don't believe the Board of Aldermen made a mistake."
But a local landowner does. In November the board approved a zoning change to make the cemetery possible. There was no objection then.
"That [change] was advertised like we advertise everything publicly. No one showed up to express any concern about it."
The church filed its application last week, also approved unanimously.
Now there's a problem. A neighboring property owner, who we were unable to reach for comment, appealed the decision.
Rikard says it will be an uphill battle to stop the plans; there are strict criteria required to deny it.
Mayor Rikard noted some of the points made in the property owner's appeal, such as, "'It puts strains on fire protection in the city,' which this does not; 'It increases traffic,' which I guess if you have a funeral you'd have some cars there at the time, but typically a cemetery has no real traffic in and out," he said. "I don't see that she can argue any of those points in our zoning ordinance."
The board will make its ruling on April 3; after that, there will be 30 days for final appeals.