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If there is a private cemetery within the township, is the township required by law to provide the maintenance and care of that cemetery?

No. State law mandates the proper care of township cemeteries (referred to as public cemeteries), but not private cemeteries within the township. MCL 128.61 states that the Township shall “cause all cemeteries within [the] township, except private cemeteries . . . , to be properly taken care of.  Despite no state law requirement to provide the maintenance and care, there is a state law process for vacating private cemeteries under certain circumstances, including neglect, abandonment, or creating a public nuisance. MCL 128.31. In such situations, 10 or more residents of the township may submit a complaint to the township board requesting the township begin a court proceeding to vacate the private cemetery. If the township does not begin a proceeding within 30 days, then a township resident may begin the proceeding without consent of the township. 

Upon vacation of the private cemetery (regardless of who begins the proceeding), the township must disinter those buried in the private cemetery and reinter them in the township cemetery. MCL 128.34. If no township cemetery exists, another suitable cemetery must be chosen. The disinterment, reinternment, and cost of the proceedings shall be at the expense of the township. MCL 128.34. In light of these costs, a township may consider voluntarily assuming the responsibility of the private cemetery. That, however, will depend on the size of the cemetery, the number of graves, and the extent to which maintenance and care are an issue at the cemetery.

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