The Loudoun County Office of Mapping and Geographic Information and Department of Planning and Zoning will create a database of active and inactive cemeteries around the county.
The initiative was launched by County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and supervisors Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) and Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) during the board’s April 19 meeting.
Higgins said the registry is necessary “in light of all the growth we’ve had in the county.”
“While we have a requirement that these cemeteries are identified, we really don’t have any database of where they are and what we can or should do with them,” Higgins said. Setting up the database of the county’s burial grounds, he said, would allow the local government to be proactive rather than reactive when development threatens a cemetery.
The county has recently had several controversies as development and cemeteries have clashed, including the Belmont slave cemetery, which was threatened by construction at the intersection of Rt. 7 and Belmont Ridge Road; Sycolin Community Cemetery, on property acquired by the Town of Leesburg to realign Sycolin Road; a cemetery at the planned Compass Creek development in Leesburg; and the Tippets Hill Cemetery, where a developer is working around the burial grounds to build data centers.
“The idea of a county registry has developed over the years and is the result of the efforts of many people in the African American community,” wrote Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) in an email. “People like [author and historian] Kevin Grigsby have been pointing out the importance of identifying cemetery location and preservation for over a decade.”
The Loudoun Historic Cemetery Committee of the Thomas Balch Library has been researching where those cemeteries are located. County staff members will consult with the committee as they assemble the database.
The committee includes representatives from groups including the Loudoun Freedom Center, The Black History Committee, the Loudoun Preservation and Conservation Coalition and the county’s Heritage Commission, and is chaired by Jennifer Worcester Moore, executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area.