LIVINGSTON - The Livingston Parish Council may amend a new ordinance aimed at keeping burial vaults secure in the ground, an ordinance adopted after last summer's flood displaced close to 200 of them in the parish.

In March, the Parish Council adopted the ordinance, which requires burial vaults be covered by at least 18 inches of soil. State law already requires that caskets be buried at least 2 feet deep but makes an exception for those encased in vaults.

Residents, however, objected to the new regulations at a council meeting last month, with one person saying the ordinance violates his religious beliefs and another saying the ordinance creates financial hardship.

"I want to be buried above ground. I don't want to be buried in the dirt," Killian resident Alfred David told the council on May 26. "You know, Jesus Christ wasn't buried in the ground; he was buried in a vault. You're getting into 'church and state' and religion here."

At its meeting Thursday, the Parish Council introduced a proposed amendment to the ordinance that says if a person's final wishes are to be interred above ground, the burial vault holding the casket must be secured to the vault lid, and the vault also must be secured to the ground "in a manner that prevents the caskets from being disturbed during a natural disaster such as a flood." 

After some discussion, the council added another option: the use of a no-seal casket inside a vault, a type of casket that wouldn't float in the case of a flood.

"That might solve everyone's problem," Councilman Garry Talbert said.

Such caskets, Talbert said, are also typically less expensive than sealed caskets.

A public hearing on the proposed amendment is scheduled for the Parish Council's July 13 meeting. 

The ordinance regarding burial vaults also requires two additional pieces of information to be permanently affixed to caskets: the name of the cemetery and the burial plot location. State law already requires that the name and date of death of the deceased, as well as the name of the funeral home, be attached to caskets.

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