Save Our Homes: Stop Highland Cemetery & Protect Wawayanda

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Hello Wawayanda and beyond,

We are the residents of Onion Avenue. These are our homes and we are asking for your help to save them

This past Wednesday, Oct. 14, we attended a Wawayanda Town Planning Board meeting to discuss an application for the proposed Highland Cemetery project. The cemetery will have 65,000 plots, starting directly behind the residential houses. Of all the land they intend to use, the first available plots will be for sale directly behind our property lines. Using the applicant’s words, that would bring over 500 tombstones this year, 20 feet behind our houses.

Outside of being a visual eyesore and decreasing market values, we propose major concerns that the applicant and town board have yet to address.  

First and foremost, we are concerned about the cleanliness of our drinking and farming water. Research shows cemeteries pose “environment risks for the population due [to] the contaminates released… Populations living close to cemeteries may be exposed to elevated levels of highly harmful contaminants to human health.” These contaminants have the potential to seep into our soil and well water systems in liquid or gas form. Studies show harmful bacteria’s like escherichia coli, enterococci and staphylococcus, are recorded at higher levels in cemetery run off water.  Diseases like hepatis A and typhoid fever can spread as far as 400 meters beyond the cemetery. In the uncertain age of COVID, this is a huge concern for all members of this town.

Secondly, concerned residents asked the applicants about preserving trees and animal habitats. Building fences around the property and changing the landscape will disturb the various wildlife we have: bears, deer, coyotes, and small game. The area is also home to hundreds of trees that have thrived here for centuries. The applicants did not describe a sufficient plan to protect the area's biodiversity other than they will follow the law.

Additionally, a non-denominational cemetery will bring guests from all over to our countryside road; a road that cannot fit two cars comfortably on either side and features hills and blind-spots that cause complications with the little traffic we see as it is. As it currently stands, there was no plan or thought into supporting our road to maintain the new flow of traffic. The applicants expect around 10 ceremonies per week to occur and stated most visitors to be traveling to this area on Saturday’s as early as 7:30AM.

At Wednesday’s Planning Board meeting, the applicants failed to outline a comprehensive plan to ease the cemetery’s burdens on its neighbors. When questioned on sizes of buildings, fencing and many other structural dimensions, the applicants responded with confusion, hesitancy, and “we will get back to you.” One applicant, that was used as a spokesperson, is also under-experienced in running a cemetery.  He currently owns a small amount of land in a cemetery in New Jersey, managing only a handful of plots rather than the 65,000 proposed. When further questioned about how this plan came about, the applicant and the associate of the project had differing answers highlighting separate motives for the development.

The new and old residents of the neighborhood moved here for the tranquility Waywayanda has to offer. We have put our roots in the ground so kids can have open land to play, space for dogs to roam, and most importantly, owning forever homes that can be passed down through the generations.

Please help us save our home by signing this petition, to be sent to Waywayanda Planning committee.  With your support, they will better understand us when we say this is our home and we must protect it.

If you would like to take more direct action, please email

Thank you.