497.260 Cemeteries; exemption; investigation and mediation.—
(1) The provisions of this chapter relating to cemeteries and all rules adopted pursuant thereto shall apply to all cemeteries except for:
(a) Religious institution cemeteries of less than 5 acres which provide only single-level ground burial.
(b) County and municipal cemeteries.
(c) Community and nonprofit association cemeteries which provide only single-level ground burial and do not sell burial spaces or burial merchandise.
(d) Cemeteries owned and operated or dedicated by a religious institution prior to June 23, 1976.
(e) Cemeteries beneficially owned and operated since July 1, 1915, by a fraternal organization or its corporate agent.
(f) A columbarium consisting of less than one-half acre which is owned by and immediately contiguous to an existing religious institution facility and is subject to local government zoning. The religious institution establishing such a columbarium shall ensure that the columbarium is perpetually kept and maintained in a manner consistent with the intent of this chapter. If the religious institution relocates, the religious institution shall relocate all of the urns and remains placed in the columbarium which were placed therein during its use by the religious institution.
(g) Family cemeteries of less than 2 acres which do not sell burial spaces or burial merchandise.
(h) A mausoleum consisting of 2 acres or less which is owned by and immediately contiguous to an existing religious institution facility and is subject to local government zoning. The religious institution establishing such a mausoleum must ensure that the mausoleum is kept and maintained in a manner consistent with the intent of this chapter and limit its availability to members of the religious institution. The religious institution establishing such a mausoleum must have been incorporated for at least 25 years and must have sufficient funds in an endowment fund to cover the costs of construction of the mausoleum.
(i) A columbarium consisting of 5 acres or less which is located on the main campus of a state university as defined in s. 1000.21(6). The university or university direct-support organization, as defined in s. 1004.28(1), which establishes the columbarium shall ensure that the columbarium is constructed and perpetually kept and maintained in a manner consistent with subsection (2) and the intent of this chapter.
(3) All cemeteries exempted under this chapter which are in excess of 5 acres must submit to the following investigation and mediation procedure by the department in the event of a consumer complaint:
(a) The exempt cemetery shall make every effort to first resolve a consumer complaint;
(b) If the complaint is not resolved, the exempt cemetery shall advise the consumer of the right to seek investigation and mediation by the department;
(c) If the department receives a complaint, it shall attempt to resolve it telephonically with the parties involved;
(d) If the complaint still is not resolved, the department shall conduct an investigation and mediate the complaint;
(e) If the department conducts an onsite investigation and face-to-face mediation with the parties, it may charge the exempt cemetery a single investigation and mediation fee not to exceed $300, which fee shall be set by rule and shall be calculated on an hourly basis; and
(f) If all attempts to resolve the consumer complaint fail, the cemetery shall be subject to proceedings for penalties and discipline under this chapter if it is determined in a proceeding complying with chapter 120 that the cemetery is guilty of fraud, deceit, theft, gross negligence, incompetence, unjustified failure to honor its contracts, or failure to adequately maintain its premises. The department may file and serve on the cemetery an administrative complaint and cause the matter to be prosecuted and may thereafter issue and enforce its final order in the matter pursuant to chapter 120.
(4) Any religious-institution-owned cemetery that is exempt under paragraph (1)(d), is located in a county with a population of at least 1.3 million persons on July 1, 1996, and was selling merchandise and services to the religious institution’s members prior to October 1, 1993, may establish one additional exempt cemetery in such county after December 31, 2020.
(5) Any religious-institution-owned cemetery exempt under subsection (1), except those cemeteries qualifying under paragraph (1)(d), which becomes affiliated with a commercial enterprise must meet the requirements of s. 497.263.
(6)(a) This subsection applies to all cemeteries in this state.
(b) No cemetery company or other legal entity conducting or maintaining any public or private cemetery may deny burial space to any person because of race, creed, marital status, sex, national origin, or color. A cemetery company or other entity operating any cemetery may designate parts of cemeteries or burial grounds for the specific use of persons whose religious code requires isolation. Religious institution cemeteries may limit burials to members of the religious institution and their families.
(c) Any cemetery company or other legal entity which violates the provisions of this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.083, and each violation of this section constitutes a separate offense.
History.—s. 2, ch. 59-363; s. 1, ch. 65-570; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 76-251; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 3, 39, 40, ch. 80-238; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; s. 1, ch. 85-202; s. 1, ch. 89-8; ss. 38, 122, ch. 93-399; s. 2, ch. 96-400; s. 1, ch. 2000-195; s. 1, ch. 2001-120; s. 2, ch. 2004-24; s. 42, ch. 2004-301; s. 95, ch. 2005-2; s. 22, ch. 2005-155; s. 5, ch. 2007-55; s. 1, ch. 2009-219.