MONROE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An Orange County cemetery said earlier this month that it was suing a family over the size of their headstone, and now a woman has come forward saying the grave marker’s size has caused her problems too.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported exclusively Thursday, the woman said the grave marker is so big that it encroached on her father’s plot, and they had to dig up his body and have it moved.
“His little marker was right here,” said Casie Grasso.
Grasso buried her 55-year-old father at the historic Seamanville Cemetery in Monroe in 2014. But the heartache did not end there.
“We went through two years of nothing but grief,” Grasso said. “We’re happy now that he’s in a place where he is and we’re finally able to put him to rest — and we went through this, and it wasn’t fair.”
Grasso said the large gravestone that the cemetery is suing over, and its ornate memorial garden, forced her family to disinter her father’s remains and move him about 25 feet away.
“We weren’t able to put up a headstone, because they actually came over the lines with their rock garden onto his plot,” Grasso said.
The parents of 25-year-old car crash victim Aaron Vays are being sued by the cemetery over the size of the marble headstone, which is 6 inches too tall. The First Presbyterian Church of Monroe is threatening to tear it all down and bill the Vays family for the work – something they tearfully vowed to fight earlier ths month.
“I can’t grieve here,” Polina Vays – the mother of Aaron Vays – said on Nov. 13. “I’m afraid they’re going to come and take the monument down, but to take the monument down they have to take me down first.”
The Vays memorial includes solar-powered lights, a bench, several vases with artificial flowers, and even a bird feeder and birdhouses on a nearby tree an and urn used as an ashtray.
The cemetery rules posted in a mailbox near the entrance clearly state that no artificial decorations are allowed in the 234-year-old graveyard. That rule bans lights, vases, and urns.
“You have to have respect for other people and what the laws are and what the rules are,” Grasso said. “You should abide by them, and none of this would’ve happened”
The Vays family’s attorney said the cemetery “mismarked the gravesites” and that they only found that out while building the monument. They said they have tremendous “sympathy and empathy” for neighboring families.
Grasso said she feels their anguish over possibly having to change a grave marker.
“It’s upsetting. We’ve been through it,” Grasso said. “We had to exhume and move, I understand it, but if they would’ve gone by what the bylaws were, we wouldn’t be here today.”
A judge will likely have to decide what happens to the memorial next.
The church’s attorney told CBS2 that if the Vays family lowers the headstone by 6 inches, it could stay. But the rock garden and other adornments still have to be removed.