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Amish Denied Exemption From Horse Rule

Penn. Township Denies Zoning Change to Allow Amish Men to Keep Horses Used for Transportation

The Associated Press

ZION, Pa. June 5 - Officials rejected a request to change a local ordinance so two Amish men could keep horses on their rural central Pennsylvania property, meaning the men have less than a week to remove the animals or face fines of $100 a day.

The horses are an essential form of transportation for the Amish, who generally shun modern conveniences such as electricity, telephones and cars. Daniel King and Daniel Beiler said they use the horses to pull buggies.

"I ain't going to be able to live very long paying $100 a day," King, 26, said after Wednesday's vote by the Walker Township supervisors.

The men's attorney said they would appeal the ruling.

King and Beiler, 31, acknowledged knowing Walker Township had a zoning ordinance prohibiting horses when they bought the land. The township only allows horses on plots larger than two acres, and does not allow horses within villages or in areas zoned for multifamily residential use.

Keith Harter, chairman of the board of supervisors, said the zoning ordinance was necessary because of concerns about animal waste.

The men's attorney, James M. Bryant, said most of the available land where the men could keep horses was either ill-suited or too expensive.

Bryant said he would immediately appeal a judge's May 30 ruling that established the fines. He said he may also appeal in federal court on the grounds the ordinance violates the Constitution and the federal Religious Land Use Act, which exempts religious groups from most local zoning rules unless the restrictions protect public safety.

"We're living in America here. I can't believe you can't have a horse for religious transportation," King said. "It makes no sense at all."