A new multi-faith “natural burial” cemetery on New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring will be considered by the Montgomery County Planning Board next week.
Burials in the cemetery will not use traditional caskets or embalming, according to Planning Board documents. Instead, bodies will be buried in a biodegradable casket about 4 feet below ground.
“The mission is to reduce the cost of burials, preserve the natural lifecycle with the environment, and restore people’s relationship with the natural cycle of life,” according to Planning Board documents.
Project leaders say there are no local, state or federal laws that prevent the method.
They also wrote in their application that there is no evidence that burying bodies in the proposed way contaminates groundwater, “likely due to the natural filtering capabilities of soil and mandatory setbacks from water sources,” according to project documents.
The cemetery, called “Reflection Park,” will have several small buildings, including an entry gazebo, a maintenance building, an office building and a community building.
The maintenance building will house equipment to maintain the property, and the entry gazebo will have an information kiosk, according to Planning Board documents.
The office building will house roughly seven employees.
The community building will be about 6,000 square feet and 50 feet tall. It will have an assembly hall that can fit about 200 people, a kitchen, storage, bathrooms, an outdoor terrace and an outdoor play structure for children.
Also included in the project is a 53-space parking lot adjacent to the community building.
Burials at Reflection Park will cost approximately $3,500, which is less than the average cost of burial in Maryland, according to project leaders.
Planning Board documents don’t say how many graves are expected on the 40-acre property, but project leaders expect that, at its peak in about 10 years, the site will host about one burial per day. It is expected to take about 100 years before the property is full, documents say.
The site is currently undeveloped.
The Planning Board will consider the proposal on Thursday. If approved, construction is expected to start this year.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org