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Wadsworth Cemetery battle heads to Georgia appeals court

The prolonged battle over the Wadsworth Cemetery and its historic graves is headed to its third legal venue as the City of Barnesville has requested and been granted a review by the Georgia Court of Appeals. The case has been heard in superior courts in Fulton and Lamar counties with the city losing in both instances. The pitched battle over the grave relocation issue dates back well over a year. The city is seeking a permit to move at least 103 graves from the cemetery to make room for industrial expansion and argues the cemetery is abandoned. Descendants of those buried there are vehemently opposed to the idea. They argue the cemetery was never abandoned and they were prohibited from visiting it. They also claim the city desecrated the burial ground by cutting trees there. The city says it has an industrial prospect that wishes to erect a 500,000 square foot building on the 126 acre site and that the building cannot be worked around the cemetery. Judge Tommy Wilson denied the permit request in Lamar superior court after a three-hour hearing on July 27. After issuing his ruling, Judge Wilson continued to admonish the descendants of those buried in the cemetery to seek a compromise with the city. He noted that the city could start action to seek another permit the following day. ”You need to work toward a compromise. In the long run, you will not win,” the judge said. He gave the city 30 days to appeal at that time and later granted a 30-day extension to the appeal period. In its latest action, the city successfully argued the state appeals court has jurisdiction and that the case does not fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Georgia Supreme Court. The appeals court will now conduct a discretionary review of Judge Wilson’s denial of the grave relocation permit. No timetable has been established for hearings if any are deemed necessary. There was, likewise, no indication of how long the appeals court review will take.

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