In Zoning Battle, Amish Man Told He Can't Keep Horse

April 9, 2004

Source: The First Amendment Center

On April 9, 2004 The First Amendment Center reported, "A Centre County judge yesterday rejected an Amish man's appeal of a zoning ordinance that has barred him from keeping a horse on his property. But the judge also called the zoning rule "arbitrary" and "unreasonable" and urged a second Amish appellant to seek an exemption. Judge David E. Grine rejected a request by Daniel King and Daniel Beiler to rewrite the zoning law to allow horses on more residential lots. Grine ruled that King must abide by the Walker Township ordinance that prohibits horses within village boundaries and on properties zoned for multifamily use. But Beiler was given 20 days to request a variance for his property, which is substantially larger than King's but is also zoned for multifamily use, and to demonstrate why horses should not be restricted. In his decision, Grine said the township was right to consider the public health implications of keeping livestock on small lots, and noted that a minimum of one acre often is required for owning livestock. But he also said the township acted arbitrarily in prohibiting livestock on all tracts zoned for multifamily use and, in doing so, infringed on the religious freedom of the Amish."