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Henrico County clears the air about controversial grave relocation project

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) -- Henrico County is clearing the air about a controversial project aimed at relocating three family cemeteries.

There are dozens of people buried on county-owned land at White Oak Technology Park. Henrico wants to relocate those graves to clear the land for development.

"The large parcels that are left basically have these cemeteries in the middle of them," Gary McLaren, head of Henrico County's Economic Development Authority told 8News. 

McLaren explained that rather than ask a judge for permission to reinter the remains, the county opted to work with families of those buried at the cemetery.

"I'm not happy with the way it's going," one person told 8News last week.

"You leave people who are buried in the group, where they are buried," another added.

In response, McLaren, "they made it very clear that they would prefer if they had the option for these remains to be within White Oak Technology Park someplace, and so we've been trying to honor that."

The county wants to move the graves to an area off Portugese Road, about 100 feet from wetlands. 

"Where you have deer, eagles and wildlife as opposed to be in the shadow of a large industrial complex with a bunch of truck traffic," McLaren said. 

Loved ones aren't sold on the spot, so both sides are still talking.

One thing they all agree on is that the final resting place should be a memorial to the people buried there: Formers forced to give up their land to the government at the end of World War II.

"We're looking at more than just reinterring them to a place where their ancestors can actually go and visit and pay respects, but also to tell the story," McLaren added. 

The county filed a permit application to get the state's OK to move the graves. It could be approved within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, Henrico intends to keep talking with the families to find an acceptable final resting place.


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