Amish families in court fight with Shelby County over health and building regulations

(WKEF/WRGT)

SIDNEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - A legal battle is brewing in Shelby County as the county took four Amish families to court, saying they're not following health and building code regulations on their farm.

On Friday, a settlement conference was held to try and reach an agreement, but if nothing is reached, the four families who live on one farm could be forced off their land.

"We think the Amish should be left alone," attorney Richard Shulte said. "We think they're a good community and they do a lot of good."

"The Amish community doesn't believe in using electricity, doesn't believe in a lot of stuff most people believe in," he continued, "and the local government is trying to require them to comply with local ordinances that violate their religious freedom."

"The health department and the building folks have bent over backwards in our estimation to try to accommodate their religious practices," Shelby County Prosecutor Timothy S. Sell said.

Sell said the issue is the disposal of waste water and not getting permits when building homes.

"Construction of a home, construction of an addition on a different home, were done without permit, without inspection and all the other things that need to happen that every other citizen in our community have to go through," he said.

He said the environment needs to be protected while accommodating the Amish families' religious needs.

"It's so unfair, so unjust," Dan Evilsizor said. "They don't have running water and toilets in their houses and don't need the same type of septic that most people do."

Evilsizor knows and works with the Amish community.

"They're good peaceful people and they don't want to hurt or offend anyone," he said.

He said right now, they're fearful.

"They were told they could go to jail, so they thought today could very well been a day that husband and wife could very well have been carted off to jail," said Evilsizor.

Both sides said they want a resolution.

"That allows the Amish community to continue to live their way of live," Shulte said.

"It's our hope we will be able to reach a resolution with this community and put this behind everyone," Sell said.

The county is going to the farm Monday for inspections. Wednesday, the Shelby County Health Department will determine if they'll require the Amish to use electricity for their homes and septic systems.

If no agreement is reached, in March a hearing is scheduled to try and force them off the property. The county needs a court order first.

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