Rules and Regulations

City of Traverse City
Office of the City Manager
Administrative Order #32

Title:                     Oakwood Cemetery Rules

Depts. Affected:  Cemetery

Date:                    October 2010

The Rules for Oakwood Cemetery are developed pursuant to the Traverse City Code of Ordinances.  The purpose of the Rules is to ensure that the facilities, structures, and grounds of the Cemetery remain a quiet, respectful place for the remains of those interred and for those who visit and enjoy the serenity.

It is to be expected that the following rules will not cover every occasion or situation that arises, so provisions are included to deal with those times.  Also, the Rules do not cover all regulations regarding Oakwood Cemetery but supplement the regulations within the Code of Ordinances.

The Rules to meet the before-mentioned purposes are as follows:

General Maintenance and Decorations: 

1.  Tree and Shrubbery Maintenance 

The City will undertake to maintain, as may be practical, the planting of trees and shrubs and to preserve and maintain landscape features.  While the City does not allow individual plantings, those in place are considered to be "grandfathered".  The City does not maintain nor is it responsible for these grandfathered plantings.

2.  Perpetual Care

Perpetual care shall consist of:  watering, mowing, and the raising of sunken graves when determined by the City as necessary.

3.  Containers Permitted, Upright and Flush Marker Sections

Urns and/or vases (containers) that are within the height and width of the marker shall be allowed in the Upright Marker Section.   In the Flush Marker Section, containers that are within the same width of the marker shall be allowed.   It is recommended for proper care, that containers not be larger than 18” in diameter, measured at the widest point, and not be larger than 24” in height.   Containers must be made out of bronze, concrete, steel, clay, copper, marble, or granite.   Containers made of other materials need approval in advance from the City.   Containers must be located at the head of the grave beside the marker, not in front or behind, and it is recommended that they be placed upon a concrete slab not to exceed 18” by 18” or incorporated into the marker.   Only one such container is allowed per marked occupied grave space, except for those spaces which have a double headstone, then containers on either side are allowed once one of the spaces has been occupied.   A second container may be located beside a single grave space if space allows.   This rule applies to containers located on the markers.   Other types of containers will be removed unless provided for in Section 5.

In Third Addition, Block A only, only one container not larger than 12 inches in diameter will be permitted per marked occupied grave space.

If a flag is placed on the plot, it must be located following the same rules for containers.   Any flag so placed shall not exceed 12” x 18” in size and not be over 36” in total height.   Flags placed by veterans’ organizations will be removed by military protocol.

In addition to the containers, baskets on "shepherd" hooks will be permitted.   One single shepherd hook will be permitted per marked occupied gravesite except for double headstone sites, and then two may be allowed.   The hooks shall be located on either side of the marker and must be flush to the marker with the basket hanging directly over the marker.   No shepherd hooks will be permitted in Third Addition, Block A.

Containers on hooks not used by June 15 of each year shall be tagged and removed.   If not claimed by the owner within six (6) months, the containers or hooks shall be considered abandoned and may be disposed of by the City.

4.  Flowers and Winter Wreaths  

Flowers, natural, dried, or artificial, are permitted within the approved containers as listed above.   Winter wreaths are also permitted and should be no larger than 24 inches at their widest point and shall be placed on a tripod when possible.   In keeping with the desire to have as natural a setting as possible, environmental concerns, and effective grounds maintenance, the use of natural or dried flowers and all-natural winter wreaths is encouraged and appreciated.   Floral arrangements not in containers or on shepherd hooks will be removed.

5.  Decorations Beyond Burial Day 

The City shall not be responsible for floral pieces, baskets, or frames in which, or to which, such floral pieces are attached beyond the day of the burial.   Cemetery staff or their agents will remove funeral designs and floral pieces as soon as they become unsightly, and they assume no responsibility for their return.

6.  Removal of Articles  

For the City to complete fall and spring maintenance, all articles placed on plots are to be removed by October 1 of each year and no placement of articles may be made before May 7 of each year.   Winter wreaths will be permitted beginning December 1 and must be removed by the following March 31.   If there are special circumstances that call for the placing of winter wreaths earlier, please check with the City for arrangements.   The City may remove articles that do not conform with these Rules.

Foundations and Monuments

1.  Foundation Installation

All foundations shall be installed to Cemetery requirements.   The City may, when it is determined necessary, due to improper installation or poor materials, remove a foundation detracting from the overall condition of the marker, re-level or replace any foundation installed by the City.   The City may also remove from any plot any deteriorated foundation or memorial that was not installed by the City until the owner or original installer pays for the normal charges for an acceptable foundation to be installed.

Foundations placed by other than Oakwood Cemetery staff will require a permit available from the Sexton and payment of the site location fee before the installation.   The Sexton must approve the size, type, and location of any foundation so requested.   The installer will also be financially responsible for any damage to turf, landscape features, markers, monuments, or other cemetery features.   Those installing said foundation may be required to furnish satisfactory evidence of their ability to perform the proposed work and furnish proof of adequate liability and workman's compensation insurance.

2.  Monument and Marker Foundation

All monuments and markers in the upright sections shall be placed on concrete foundations approved by the City, at a cost to be determined by the City Commission.  Markers in the flush sections of the Cemetery shall be placed with the tops flush with the ground.  If there is more than one marker on a plot, all other markers will be placed with the tops flush with the ground, not to be decorated.

3.  Payment and Orders

Monuments and markers shall not be delivered to the plots until perpetual care is paid and the foundations have been paid for in full and installed.  Orders for foundations installed by the City shall be placed a minimum of two weeks in advance.  Foundations will not be placed during the winter months.

4.  Monument and Marker Material

All monuments shall be made of durable granite, marble, bronze, or other material approved in advance by the City.

5.  Monument Setting

Monument retailers and independent stone setters must set all memorials in conformity with Cemetery requirements and in accordance with trade standards of proper methods of handling and setting with non-staining material.   Monuments must be placed at the head of the grave when at all possible.   The City may correct any error that may occur in the placing of a monument, marker, or foundation.  The City assumes no responsibility for assuring that ordered markers and monuments are proper for the area in which they are to be placed and for name placement location.

6.  Size

Markers and monuments installed on any plot after June 1, 1995, shall not be smaller than 10” x 8” in base size and shall not exceed 40” in length for a single burial space, 80” in length for a double burial space, and 18” in width.   In the upright sections, the height shall not exceed 36” which includes the base above the ground.  Taller monuments may be considered upon written request to and approval from the City Manager.  In the Third Addition Block, the maximum size allowed is 12 inches by 24 inches.

7.  Design and Inscriptions

The City may reject any memorial or improvement that, on account of size, design, or inscription, is unsuitable to the plot on which it is to be placed.   Inscriptions shall be limited to:

  1. Legal names or socially acceptable nicknames;
  2. Significant personal dates;
  3. Emblems or organizations or institutions incorporated in or recognized by the federal or Michigan governments;
  4. Suitable quotations from any nationally distributed book of quotations, poetry, or religious text;
  5. Exceptions that are submitted to and approved by the City Manager in writing.


1.  Mausoleum Access

The mausoleum will be unlocked for visitation from 8:30 a.m. through 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, April 1 through November 14.   During other times, the doors will not be opened unless requested.

2.  Casket Sizes in Mausoleum

Crypt owners are responsible for the selection of the appropriate casket size.

3.  Crypt or Niche Memorials

All fittings, adornments, urns, inscriptions, engravings, and nameplates for crypts or niches are subject to approval and control by the City.   Such activities and costs are the responsibility of the crypt purchaser.

4.  Mausoleum and Tombs (private)

Mausoleums, columbariums, or tombs may be constructed only in areas set aside by the City for that purpose.   Those constructing a mausoleum or tomb must, after purchasing an acceptable site, present plans and specifications to the City.


1.  Grave Opening Orders

Orders for opening graves will not be honored unless an "Authorization for Interment" form is signed by the owner or his or her personal representative. Should the owner or his or her personal representative fail or neglect to sign such interment orders, the City reserves the right to make the interment in a location designated by the City.

2.  Vehicles

The use of recreational vehicles shall not be allowed in the Cemetery.   This includes, but is not limited to, off-road vehicles, three and four-wheeled and other all-terrain vehicles, mopeds, mini-bikes, motor scooters, off-road motorcycles and snowmobiles.

3.  Prohibited Activities

Certain recreational activities disruptive or disrespectful in nature to the intended purpose of the Cemetery are not permitted.   This includes, but is not limited to, rollerblading, skateboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, golfing, flying a kite, jogging, bicycling or playing in the Cemetery.

Additional Rules; Hardships:

The City Manager may make temporary additional rules as may be needed from time to time to meet emergencies which are not covered by these Rules.   It is recognized that special cases may arise in which the literal enforcement of a rule may impose unnecessary hardship.   The City Manager may make exceptions, suspensions or modifications of any of these Rules when such action appears necessary, and such temporary exception, suspension or modification shall in no way be construed as affecting the general application of such Rules.

Hours:  No person shall be in the Oakwood Cemetery after sunset and before sunrise.

Designation of Authority:   The authorities and activities of the City Manager as designated in Chapter 1066 in the Traverse City Code of Ordinances may be designated.   Any person aggrieved by an action or decision by the person so designated in relation to implementation of the City Ordinance or Rules may appeal that action or decision in writing to the City Manager, who will make the final decision.


R. Ben Bifoss, City Manager

History:   Supersedes Executive Ordrer #310 dated June 7, 1999

Cross Ref:  T.C. Code, Section 1066.03