Board seeks easement, ownership to historic Atlas Cemetery

By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.- On May 17 the township board of trustees agreed to move forward on the establishment of a perminate easement for access to the Atlas Cemetery along with fencing around the parameter.
The historical cemetery dating back more than 250 years, located on a .69 acre tract of land just behind the Atlas Baptist Church, 6396 S. Gale Road, near the intersection of Gale and Perry roads in Atlas, is in need of care. Many of the stones are missing and dilapidated due to age. A survey of the cemetery was recently completed and township officials are currently in the process of notifying the property owners adjacent of the now established lines.
Township attorney David Lattie, who attended the (Zoom) meeting on said the Atlas Baptist Church has been sold and a business now owns the church building and property around the cemetery.
“We have made several efforts to determine who is the last or current owners of the cemetery,” said Lattie. “Two title companies have worked on the project. Neither title searched has produced any document that would show a specific transaction for the cemetery property. “(However) We know who does not own it. The Faith Baptist Church nor the adjoining properties do not own the cemetery. We are safe to say by default we (the township) owns the property.”
Access is an issue since there is no way to get there by vehicle—only to walk across the property which was sold on a land contract, added Lattie.
“They (new owners) are not able to convey a permeate easement for vehicle or pedestrian traffic, right now,” he said.. “However, they have no objection to the township to access the property for maintenance proposes or people interested in the cemetery.”
Lattie said the original founding family is likely the creators of the parcel and given current case law and statutes in the State of Michigan the township are the default owners of the cemetery property.
Shirley Katuman-Jones, township supervisor said at one time there was an easement out to Gale Road.
“When it was known as ‘Davisonville’ it was the Davison Family settlement,” said Katuman-Jones.

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