Nearly 100 Amish men meet with county staff over building permit issues

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AUGUSTA, Wisc. (WEAU) - A battle over following tradition versus enforcing the law brought Eau Claire County staff and the Amish community together Wednesday.

For the first time in eight years, the county had a meeting with nearly 100 Amish men to talk about building permits and safety concerns at the Unity Bank in Augusta.

Eau Claire County land use supervisor Rod Eslinger said uniform dwelling permits aren't new, but issues with the Amish building one or two family homes lead to Wednesday's meeting to inform them about proper practices to avoid legal actions.

"We've had several concerns as far as structures being built without proper permits, we've seen an increase in those situations where we wanted to get together to meet with the community to make sure that we have an understanding of what the requirements are," Eslinger said.

The Amish men said some of these ordinances go against their religion and they'd like an exemption by changing the law.

"The state statutes do not afford county staff such as myself or a building inspector to look at the state statutes any different way," Eslinger said.

A smoke alarm requirement is just one of many disputes the Amish have with the law, which they fear could lead to further regulations, going against their beliefs.

"We want to continue to foster and grow our relationship and make sure we do outreach like this and education to make sure we have safe buildings in Eau Claire County," Eslinger said.

Amish men at the meeting said they were disappointed no local lawmakers attended.

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