Palm Cemetery plans to sell unused plots if owners don't come forward

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WINTER PARK, Fla. —

Palm Cemetery in Winter Park said it has hundreds of unused plots, and plans to begin selling them soon if owners don't come forward.

The City Commission just approved an ordinance that gives cemetery workers the power to take unused grave plots from people or families who haven't had contact with the city for more than 50 years.

Scott Hora is director of a community funeral home in Orlando.

"I've never heard of such a thing. It seems like there would be some backlash from the community because of that," Hora said.

"People are moving into different areas of the country. They're not all living in the same location anymore so that's probably why they're ending up with these plots where they can't locate people."

In the coming months, city workers will go through census data and Social Security systems to try to find owners or their family members.

Florida state statute allows the city to reclaim the space if no one comes forward to use it as a final resting place.

At Palm Cemetery, there are 225 vacant plots that haven't been spoken for in ages.

One person was buried in California years ago and has a spot at Palm Cemetery that can now be taken.

A woman died in 1923 and had five plots that have gone unused for 90 years.

The plots will be taken over by the city and sold for $5,000.

All 225 unused plots could bring in $1.1 million for Winter Park.

Officials said the money generated from the unused plots will go back into the cemetery for upkeep.