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Web letter by Dan Harm: Heavy-handed county could drive Amish away

The Allen County building, planning and health departments are conspiring to specifically target the local Amish community in requiring permits for building their barns. There are two cases proceeding through the Allen County court system involving Marvin Schmucker and Robert Graber in which the county is forcing compliance with the threat of tearing down their perfectly legal and structurally sound barns.

Indiana state building code provides an exemption for private homes that are built by individuals and used for their own occupancy.


I know that to some of our fellow uninformed citizens this exemption may come as a surprise, but keep in mind our Founding Fathers understood that private property rights are foundational to freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, our “dumbed-down“, “politically correct” society is all too willing to accept the counterfeit of “peace and security” in place of true “freedom and liberty”.

It is no wonder that government on all levels, including local, continue to encroach on our precious liberty and freedoms when they aren’t held accountable by informed and active citizens.

From purely a county economic health standpoint, it is puzzling why these county agencies have chosen to specifically target the most industrious economic contributors who take the least in terms of government services. It may be that the Amish were chosen because the county department heads felt they could be bullied and would be an easy target to make an example of so the other sheep in the county would follow.

First, the Amish were told they could no longer have outhouses, then they were told they had to have slow-moving vehicle signs and lights on their buggies, now they are being told they can’t even build their own barns under a codified exemption embodied for many years in our state law.

Continued targeted and unconstitutional persecution could very well result in a mass exodus of this group with relocation to other areas that understand their significant economic and social contributions. Perhaps their future vacant (and under-maintained) properties could better support meth production or other illegal activities.

Finally, to the elected representatives of this county, ask yourselves this: In the unlikely event that the county would prevail in any ensuing legal action, what would the county really gain by subjugating this population group?