DUDLEY (CBS) — After more than a year of raucous debate and legal battles, the Dudley zoning board of appeals has approved the sale of an old, unused farm for use as an Islamic cemetery.
Town administrator Greg Balukonis says certain conditions must be met in accordance with last year’s ruling by the state land court for the Islamic cemetery to become reality on Corbin Road.
“One of the conditions is that the cemetery will operate as a religious-oriented cemetery by the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester. That the applicant also needs to go before the Board of Health and, if necessary, they have to go before the Conservation Commission for some additional approvals,” Balukonis said.
The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester had sued the town of Dudley in July of last year after a zoning board ruled that the group didn’t have standing to seek a special permit for a cemetery. The group argued that its constitutional rights had been violated and accused the cemetery’s opponents of thinly veiled bigotry.
That lawsuit was settled last December. Dudley’s zoning board of appeals signed off on an updated plan for the cemetery Thursday night.
The cemetery may not be expanded beyond 6 acres of the 55 purchased for ten years. It’s unclear exactly when development will begin. Only 10 burial plots are envisioned in the near future.
“I think the town has learned a lot in the last 14 months. And I can only speak from my perspective that we’re reaching out and we’re looking forward to having them be a neighbor in our community and both of us supporting each other,” Balukonis added.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports