Mar 5 2016
Residents don’t want their water supply to be contaminated from rotting corpses as Muslims do not use caskets to bury their dead, just white shrouds.
NEPR A big battle over a proposed Muslim cemetery in the small central Massachusetts town of Dudley carried over into another packed and angry hearing on Thursday night. To loud applause, the town’s Zoning Board rejected a plan presented by the Islamic Center of Greater Worcester.
Opponents say “the cemetery offers no benefit to Dudley,” said town administrator, Greg Balukonis, “no tax revenues, jobs, or recreational opportunities.” (But I bet the EPA would be kept busy monitoring the water)
“I live in Dudley. I pay taxes in Dudley,” said Jamie Gelinas. “They don’t live in Dudley, they’re not bringing anything into Dudley. They’re not going to pay taxes in Dudley. They basically just want to buy a piece of land and utilize it for whatever they want to do.”
The Islamic center’s attorney, Jason Talerman, told the Zoning Board that since the Muslims are a religious group, state law explicitly exempts the proposed cemetery from zoning laws. Fearful of dangers the cemetery might pose to their drinking water, their narrow roads and their small town life, residents heckled and hissed Talerman’s assertion the Dover Amendment dictates that the Muslims cannot be denied a permit.
But strong rebuttal came from Dudley’s town counsel, Gary Brackett, who questioned whether the Islamic Society is a nonprofit entity. And he quoted state law, chapter and verse: “No land shall be used for burial unless by permission by the town and the Board of Health.”