Developed in 1998 by the Government and Legal Affairs Task Force of the International Cemetery and Funeral Association


Zoning ordinances are developed and enforced under the local jurisdiction of cities, counties, towns, and villages. As a result, zoning requirements for cemetery usage can vary significantly from one local jurisdiction to another and courts will generally enforce such regulations unless they are clearly unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious.

A number of zoning ordinances do not consider the diverse functions of cemetery acreage for mausoleum, crematory, flower shop, retail monument company, columbarium, mortuary, or chapel facilities. As a result, land dedicated and zoned for cemetery uses should be granted permits for clearly related functions such as the inurnment of cremated remains or the entombment of casketed human remains in a mausoleum crypt. Some zoning ordinances consider mausoleum usage separate and distinct from cemetery usage, requiring a special use permit or approval as a nonconforming use in order to proceed with construction. In addition, many jurisdictions have not enacted building standards for cemetery-related structures or inappropriately extend to mausoleums construction standards developed for other types of buildings.


  1. Zoning ordinances regulating cemetery development should be geared, as a matter of policy, to maximize the efficient use of acreage for the interment of human remains and related services. Cemetery construction approval should not be unreasonably withheld where the local population demographics indicate the need for a cemetery or where the resulting construction will stimulate competition among existing cemeteries in the area and provide purchasers with a wider variety of options for making their plans for final disposition.
  2. Cemetery zoning ordinances should permit all types of cemetery-related land usages. Also, public occupancy standards, such as parking, fire sprinklers, and rest room facilities, should not apply to structures, such as a mausoleum or a columbarium.
  3. Mausoleum and columbarium construction should be encouraged in order to maximize the use of interment acreage. Zoning ordinances should unambiguously state that mausoleum and columbarium usage is consistent with cemetery usage. Zoning ordinances should not require special use or nonconforming use permits for mausoleum construction and other cemetery-related structures on acreage dedicated for cemetery operation.
  4. Construction standards should be consistent with the purpose and uses of the particular structure. For example, mausoleum construction standards should include appropriate drainage and venting requirements for mausoleum crypts. Adapting construction standards developed for other types of structures should be avoided because such standards tend to address issues irrelevant to mausoleum construction and ignore issues of special concern to the cemetery authority and its purchasers.