Lancaster Online reports on an increasingly popular option for housing among Amish in Lancaster County:
But as their numbers grow, more Amish want to live in a village, town or suburban development and have a small stable for a horse, just as the non-Amish have garages for cars.
“It’s become a trend among the Amish community to live on these smaller residential lots as they come off the farm and are no longer choosing to do agriculture,” said Mark Deimler, an engineer who provides zoning enforcement for Lancaster County municipalities.
Who is moving into these “non-traditional” residences? The option appeals to young families who can only afford starter homes in the high-dollar local real estate market, as well as older couples who wish to downsize after all or most of their children have fled the coop. I can also see this being attractive to unmarried Amish, those bachelor or “old maid” households.
This isn’t exactly a new trend, as Amish have been living in town for a long time already. I often came across it 10+ years ago in places like Topeka, Indiana or Mt. Hope, Ohio.
However, this shift has sometimes meant conflict with local zoning boards in some townships. The main issue is the stabling of horses.
To keep a horse, most areas require a larger lot than those typical of suburban neighborhoods and villages. Amish have reportedly walked out of meetings having felt insulted during the proceedings, Lancaster Online reports. In other cases, authorities have been more flexible in adapting zoning to Amish needs.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this article were the comments from an area Amish realtor (not your typical Amish occupation, but you’ll find a few in the larger settlements):
Chester Lapp, a real estate agent and member of the Amish church, said horses may not be appropriate for some neighborhoods.
“I don’t like seeing the Plain sect buying in cul-de-sacs where it’s 99% non-Amish and their horse poops on the road,” Lapp said.
He said he would hope that Amish seeking zoning relief would abide by Anabaptist teachings and approach municipal leaders with graciousness and respect.
Sounds like Chester knows how to relate to the concerns of non-Amish residents, which is about what I’d expect from an Amish realtor.
Don’t expect to see “Amish in the city” anytime soon. But the trend of living on smaller lots in towns and villages, and subdivision homes, is apt to continue. Though it appears Amish will have a smoother go of it in some places than in others.
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