St. Joseph Catholic Church has announced plans to begin developing a new cemetery outside of Hays in the near future.

The church has acquired 30 acres of land located on 230th Ave., one-half mile south of Spring Hill Road, approximately a 4-mile drive from the church’s location at 201 W. 13th, according to a media release from the church.

“While the cemetery is not yet full, St. Joseph Parish saw the need to look ahead to the day when more land would be needed to see to the needs of future generations,” church officials stated in the release. “Thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Ed and Donna Stehno, 30 acres of land have been procured for just such future needs.”

The current church cemetery at 27th and Vine was established in the 1870s. It is adjacent to Mount Allen Cemetery, which is a public burial place maintained by the City of Hays. The city also owns Fort Hays Memorial Gardens west of Hays near Old U.S. Highway 40.

Church officials noted that could mean most burials for Hays residents will be taking place a few miles outside of town in the “not-too-distant future.”

The church also owned a tract of land across the street from the existing cemetery along 27th Street, which has been placed on the real estate market. The asking price for the 4.83-acre parcel is $1.1 million. The land was purchased in 1922 for future cemetery expansion.

“After consulting with various parishioners who specialize in finance, banking and real estate, it was decided that selling the land in town and looking elsewhere for more cemetery space would be a wise use of this resource as we plan for the future,” the press release stated.

Proceeds from the sale would be used for development of the new cemetery and to maintain both of the church’s burial locations.

The church plans to develop 10 acres of the newly acquired property with fences, roads, a toolshed and preparations for casket burials, as well as columbaria for cremains. That portion of the property would be expected to meet the church’s burial needs for at least the next 50 years, the church stated.

A columbarium is also being considered to help meet demand at the current St. Joseph Cemetery, due to an increase in the number of cremations.