Henry Yoder read a letter signed by the Hardin County Amish community’s seven bishops — its leaders — asking the board to reconsider its orders to condemn two new Amish homes because the owners haven’t installed required wells and septic systems.
“Our goal is to uphold and maintain the biblical principles of faith which our forefathers believed: to be a separate people,” Yoder read. “And, as stated in Romans 12th chapter, ‘Be ye not conformed.’ ”
“Our goal is to live simple, God-fearing lives, and we feel your requirements are undermining our simple way of life,” Yoder read. “Our plea is to live in peace among our fellow citizens and maintain our lifestyles on our own personal properties unless it is definitely proven we are a health hazard to our neighbors. We humbly plead for a variance. We beg for mercy.”
After more than two hours of testimony from health officials, the board’s eight members didn’t change their minds. They reaffirmed the orders they issued in January to condemn the homes.
What next for the Amish?
Now, the families have three choices: They can dig proper wells and install approved concrete pits under their privies, appeal the orders to the Hardin County Common Pleas Court, or move.
By and large, the Amish don’t believe in taking legal action. Hardin County Prosecutor Brad Bailey said that if the Amish don’t appeal, a judge will be asked to sign the order, and the families will have to leave.
He couldn’t say how soon that might happen if there is no appeal.
Bailey showed photos of what health officials said was gas and oil from a pump that already dripped in or near Hershberger’s uncapped well. He said the issue is bigger than just two homes, that leeching and contamination from the human waste and bad wells can reach the water table and hurt others.
“Our rules at the health department are to prevent problems before they happen, not to react to them,” he said.