Attorney will determine who owns cemetery, land near it

August 24, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

The Danville City Commission voted unanimously on Monday to pay an attorney to sort out exactly who owns Hilldale Cemetery and a nearby tract that has become embroiled in controversy.

"We need to identify to owner of record," City Manager Darrell Blenniss advised commissioners.

It is generally believed that the city owns the cemetery and 3.5 acres across the street because the black community donated the land to the city in the 1960s. Official records of the property transfer, however, have been difficult to track down.

Ownership of the property became an issue last month when commissioners met in executive session with Norman Bartleson and others interested in buying the 3.5-acre parcel to develop housing there. When word of the potential deal got out to the public, an outcry arose from Duncan Hill residents who believe that property was set aside for future expansion of the cemetery.

Resident Kerry Kenley, who has spearheaded efforts to bring the matter to be discussed publicly, asked commissioners Monday what the status of the deal was.


"The Commission right now has no position on that particular issue," Mayor John W.D. Bowling said. "Right now, it's nowhere. When we do take any action on it, it's going to be in public."

Bowling suggested that Kenley discuss the matter with Bartleson and his partners.

Blenniss said that the city needs to clear the title to the property, regardless of whether it is eventually sold or used for cemetery expansion.

City Attorney Ed Hays said he thought an estimate of $2,000 in attorney's fees to research the title was "conservative" and said it might take as long as six months to complete the task.

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