Deerfield Beach townhomes to be built on old graveyard site

Commissioners approved project Tuesday evening


DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Deerfield Beach commissioners voted to allow a developer to build town homes on what dozens of residents claim is an old burial ground site.

Families of people who they claim were buried at the location have tried to block the project from happening for months.

But Tuesday night, city commissioners pushed the project through in a 3-2 vote, officially allowing a 69-unit town-home community to be built on the very soil where Velmina Hamilton's grandmother was laid to rest more than seven decades ago.

"I don't feel good about it because it's a sacred ground," Hamilton said. "It's where people are buried. You know, you leave them to rest. You don't bother them."

The privately owned land is labeled "the old black cemetery" in city records. The property was adjacent to an all-black church where land owners allowed members to be buried from 1897 to 1939.

The site is said to be home to dozens of graves.

But no markers or gravestones have been seen there since at least 1974, after the land's previous owner bulldozed and cleared the area.

Two archaeological digs in recent years have failed to turn up any signs of remains.

"There's no question people were buried there. None. I truly believe it. It's just a question of where are they now," said Amie Kay Tanner with the Deerfield Beach Historical Society.

Some believe that the remains were dug up and reburied at Pineview Cemetery, but there are no official records to substantiate that.

"Do you believe your grandmother is still there?" Local 10 News reporter Terrell Forney asked Hamilton.

"I believe she's still there, yep," Hamilton said. "Until someone shows me different, that's all I know, that she's there."

Follow Terrell Forney on Twitter @TVTerrell

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10

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