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Morristown, Amish settle building code dispute

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MORRISTOWN — The Town of Morristown has dropped charges of building code violations against local Amish communities to settle a First Amendment complaint.

Both parties reached a compromise, dismissing all criminal charges against the Amish and stating that some traditional building practices already meet the code, and others would be changed slightly to appease the town’s rules, according to the law firm representing the Amish in the case.

In 2006, Morristown began ticketing Amish men who violated local statutes requiring submission of schematics before a building permit was issued by refusing to abide by rules requiring smoke detectors, hurricane tie-downs and frost-proof foundations in their designs.

The conservative Swartzentruber Amish community complained that the requirements violated their religious codes, filing a 2009 complaint in the Plattsburgh U.S. District Court .

Under the agreement, the Amish will have smoke detectors installed in their homes during inspections and use an approved method of securing their home’s roof. Morristown will recognize that Amish cellar construction meets the town’s requirement for frost-free foundations.

The Amish were represented by The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization

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