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Religion and building codes

November 6th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Morristown N.Y. recently settled a case with the Amish community over failure to follow the local building code. The Amish had contended they did not need to adhere to the code because of First Amendment freedom of religion considerations.  However, they ultimately worked out an agreement whereby criminal charges were dropped.  The town recognized that certain building techniques met the code and the Amish agreed not to use other ones that were not deemed proper.  Inspectors would install smoke detectors but there would be no enforcement subsequent to the installation. Amish communities are actually growing in the United States.  The Washington Times reported that other disputes have arisen in the past with Amish communities over codes but usually it involves waste disposal and outhouses.  This is the first time I have heard of the First Amendment being a defense to a building code.  I’d be interested to hear if any readers have experience with this issue.

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