By Wyndi Veigel
Whether it’s the Associated Press, Reuters, the Dallas Morning News or even sites such as Yahoo News or Facebook, the city of Farmersville has been thrust onto an international stage.
The topic: the possibility of a Muslim-owned cemetery outside the city limits of Farmersville. The proposed cemetery will be located at CR 557 and Hwy. 380 between AA Landscaping and Home Grown Plants.
The topic was most recently brought to light at a Town Hall Meeting Aug. 4 where a panel of city representatives including City Manager Ben White, Mayor Joe Helmberger, City Attorney Alan Lathrom and Islamic Association of Collin County Scholar Khalil Abdur-Rashid answered questions put forth by audience members.
Hundreds attended the standing-room only meeting at the Farmersville High School.
The first question asked, via cards from the audience that were read anonymously was “What is the Muslim burial process and will there be seepage?”
According to Abdur-Rashid, the Islamic Association of Collin County currently buries their deceased at Restland Cemetery in Richardson. Their practices within that cemetery include the deceased body being washed with warm water at a funeral home by a state licensed funeral director, he said. Then the body is shrouded, placed into a wooden coffin and then into a concrete vault and buried in the ground in conjunction with Texas state law.
Abdur-Rashid said the IACC plans to follow the same procedure within the property of the proposed cemetery outside Farmersville.
Many have expressed concerns about their burial practices contaminating Lake Lavon, a statement that some see as ridiculous.
According to Helmberger, the North Texas Municipal Water District has been made aware of the proposed cemetery and have no concerns with the cemetery property proximity to the lake.
“They’re going to bury their dead like I bury my dead,” Helmberger said during the town hall meeting.
Another point brought up by the citizens was to ask Abdur-Rashid if anyone could be buried in the proposed cemetery, regardless if they were of the Muslim faith or not.
“We would not say no,” Abdur-Rashid said, regarding if anyone could be buried in the cemetery.
Though there was much opposition to the proposed cemetery, not everyone who voiced their opinions was in opposition.
Kathy Snyder, who lives near the proposed cemetery property, stated relief at the cemetery going in. Snyder and her husband had been watching the property for many years and were fearful, she said, of a large box store moving in. Now, Snyder said, they would have a beautiful, peaceful cemetery to look at.
“We’re pleased there’s a cemetery going in, and we’d be proud to have you,” she said.
Overall, the city was pleased with the way the town hall meeting went on Aug. 4.
“We were pretty pleased that we got a lot of good feedback,” White said. “We got a lot of the same information but we were able to have a dialogue.”
White said the IACC was also able to see the conflict in person between the townspeople and the proposed cemetery project.
At presstime, it is unknown if the IACC will be moving forward with the project. No preliminary plat has been submitted to the city.
The only steps the city is able to take regarding the proposed cemetery is the concept plan, which was approved in May by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the preliminary plat and the final plat. Both plats have to go through P & Z and city council to be approved.
According to Helmberger, the city has ‘absolutely zero’ say regarding land use for the proposed cemetery property.