1497.270 Minimum acreage; sale or disposition of cemetery lands.—
(1) No land in a licensed cemetery may be sold, mortgaged, leased, or encumbered without prior approval of the licensing authority pursuant to procedures specified by rule. Such approval shall not be given unless it be shown that such approval would be in the public interest. The licensing authority may adopt rules establishing criteria for approval of the sale, mortgaging, leasing, or encumbering of cemetery land.
(2) Any lands owned by a licensee and dedicated for use by it as a cemetery, which are in excess of a minimum of 30 contiguous acres, may be sold, conveyed, or disposed of by the licensee, after obtaining written approval pursuant to procedures and utilizing forms specified by rule and consistent with subsection (3), for use by the new owner for other purposes than as a cemetery. All of the human remains which have been previously interred therein shall first have been removed from the lands proposed to be sold, conveyed, or disposed of; however, the provisions of ss. 497.152(8)(e) and 497.384 must be complied with prior to any disinterment of human remains. Any and all titles, interests, or burial rights which may have been sold or contracted to be sold in lands which are the subject of the sale shall be conveyed to and revested in the licensee prior to consummation of any such sale, conveyance, or disposition.
(3)(a) If the property to be sold, conveyed, or disposed of under subsection (2) has been or is being used for the permanent interment of human remains, the applicant for approval of such sale, conveyance, or disposition shall cause to be published, at least once a week for 4 consecutive weeks, a notice meeting the standards of publication set forth in s. 125.66(4)(b)2. The notice shall describe the property in question and the proposed noncemetery use and shall advise substantially affected persons that they may file a written request for a hearing pursuant to chapter 120, within 14 days after the date of last publication of the notice, with the department if they object to granting the applicant’s request to sell, convey, or dispose of the subject property for noncemetery uses.
(b) If the property in question has never been used for the permanent interment of human remains, no notice or hearing is required.
(c) If the property in question has been used for the permanent interment of human remains, the department shall approve the application, in writing, if it finds that it would not be contrary to the public interest. In determining whether to approve the application, the department shall consider any evidence presented concerning the following:
1. The historical significance of the subject property, if any.
2. The archaeological significance of the subject property, if any.
3. The public purpose, if any, to be served by the proposed use of the subject property.
4. The impact of the proposed change in use of the subject property upon the reasonable expectations of the families of the deceased regarding whether the cemetery property was to remain as a cemetery in perpetuity.
5. Whether any living relatives of the deceased actively oppose the relocation of their deceased’s remains and the conversion of the subject property to noncemetery uses.
6. The elapsed time since the last interment in the subject property.
7. Any other factor enumerated in this chapter that the department considers relevant to the public interest.
(d) Any deed, mortgage, or other conveyance by a cemetery company or other owner pursuant to subsections (a) and (c) above must contain a disclosure in the following or substantially similar form:
NOTICE: The property described herein was formerly used and dedicated as a cemetery. Conveyance of this property and its use for noncemetery purposes was authorized by the Florida Department of Financial Services by Order No. ____, dated ____.
(e) The department shall adopt such rules as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.
(4) A licensee may convey and transfer to a municipality or county its real and personal property, together with moneys deposited in trust funds pursuant to this chapter, provided the municipality or county will accept responsibility for maintenance thereof and prior written approval of the department is obtained.
(5) The provisions of subsections (1) and (2) relating to a requirement for minimum acreage shall not apply to any cemetery company licensed by the department on or before July 1, 2001, which owns a total of less than 30 acres of land; however, no cemetery company shall dispose of any land without the prior written consent of the department.
(6) Except for road system, transportation corridor, or rights-of-way purposes, property dedicated for cemetery purposes and licensed under this part may not be taken by eminent domain if the area of property to be taken is 1 contiguous acre or greater in size, unless the taking entity determines in a public hearing that there are no reasonable alternatives except to use cemetery property for the project.
(7) A governmental entity may not require the transfer of property dedicated for cemetery purposes and licensed pursuant to part II as a condition of obtaining regulatory approval under this chapter.
History.—s. 9, ch. 65-288; ss. 12, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 12, ch. 78-407; ss. 26, 39, 40, ch. 80-238; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; s. 2, ch. 88-227; s. 1, ch. 89-8; ss. 89, 122, ch. 93-399; s. 5, ch. 98-268; s. 6, ch. 2001-120; s. 559, ch. 2003-261; s. 52, ch. 2004-301; s. 1, ch. 2008-83.
1Note.—Section 15, ch. 98-268, provides that “[e]xcept as otherwise provided herein, this act shall take effect July 1 of ; however, . . . the changes to section 497.253, Florida Statutes, as amended by this act, shall not be enforceable until the rules implementing those provisions have been adopted by the Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services or the Department of Banking and Finance, as applicable.” Section 497.253 was redesignated as s. 497.270 by s. 52, ch. 2004-301, and the regulating agency was redesignated as the Board of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services of the Department of Financial Services by ch. 2004-301.