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Judge rules in favor of Amish family

From staff reports

PRESTON -- An Amish family can finish a home it began to build near a rock quarry in Canton Township of Fillmore County, Fillmore District Court Judge Robert R. Benson ruled Thursday.

The county had sued in 2002 to stop Eli Slabaugh and his family from finishing the home and moving in because it was too close to the quarry.

The family sued, contending the county was discriminating against them because they are Amish, violated their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and did not follow its own rules.

Benson ruled against the Slabaughs on the discrimination and constitutional grounds, as well as two other grounds, but did find that the county was inconsistent in its enforcement of its own rules. Therefore, he dismissed the county's suit against the Slabaughs.

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He said the family did violate the county ordinance but said the county did not enforce the law uniformly.

Slabaugh's attorneys, Phillip Villaume and Jeffrey Schiek said they were able to show that others had built homes too close to the same quarry in the past few years and that they were allowed to do so.

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