A lot of folks who are comfortably nestled in the Fox Hill area are supposed to be Greek. And dead. A big chunk of it was supposed to be a Greek cemetery. Why isn’t it? Because the Town Meeting system of the early 1950s stumbled and bumbled into parliamentary chaos.
Look at Article 8 on the 1950 warrant. Seems simple enough:
The man behind the proposal was Burlington attorney/developer Jack Moss. He orchestrated many successful real estate deals of the time, but this cemetery deal became horribly soiled when it met Burlington’s Town Meeting system:
- Oct. 2, 1950 — A motion to approve the cemetery was made and seconded. A motion to dismiss was rejected by the chair. By this time, the place was already too rowdy. A motion to approve went to a vote: 91 in favor, 94 opposed. Maybe. Over the uproar, moderator Gerry Seminatore declared the motion lost. More uproar! Tempers flared, members shouted at each other and the moderator, who banged his gavel repeatedly to no avail. Finally he declared the vote illegal due to the bedlam. This caused more bedlam.
- Oct. 16 — Another attempt, this time 160 in favor and 163 opposed. That meant 323 votes received — but there were only 320 eligible voters in the room. Another mess! Moss asked for reconsidering at the next meeting.
- Dec. 2 — Another attempt, but fewer than 100 people showed up due to harsh weather. That meant no “quorum,” a fancy word for the minimum attendance required by law. But the small crowd decided to proceed anyway. This time the article passed, 41 to 38 — but it was invalid due to the low attendance. Back to the drawing board for another attempt in 1951.
For the 1951 Town Meeting, some new language described the sheer size of the parcel:
- February 1951 — Another attempt. A motion to dismiss the proposal ended in a tie vote, 107-107. Uproar! The moderator banged the gavel until it literally broke, to no avail. He finally left the room with the town clerk and went home. But angry voters refused to leave. They made John Blais the moderator and Robert Burns the temporary clerk. The cemetery proposal was defeated. It was brought up for immediate reconsideration but again defeated. The next article, which would make a two-thirds vote mandatory before a permit could be granted for various projects including a dump and a cemetery, was quickly read, voted on and passed. The meeting adjourned.
- But before that two-thirds requirement could be approved by the state attorney general, another meeting was held in April to vote on the cemetery permit, this time by printed ballot, to remove any ambiguity. It was approved by a clear majority, 251 to 192, but not a two-thirds majority. That didn’t matter because the state attorney general hadn’t signed anything yet, so a simple majority was enough. The burial permit was issued at last!
But now the Hellenic Association had changed its mind. Why push something so divisive upon Burlington? It backed out and left town, but Moss wasn’t about to give up. He tried to have the hard-won burial permit transferred to something designated as Burlington Memorial Park, but the permit was revoked and the issue died. Oh well. He instead built Moss Street (self-named), Jonathan Road (his son), Woodhill Road and many other roads on that property. As of 2021, the neighborhood is only a small percentage Greek, and 100% alive. We assume.
Some other rejected plans: