The City of Auburn is not budging on requiring collection devices on large animals within the city limits. This was clear Monday night when many individuals spoke out against the ordinance, but were met with silence by the council members as they moved on with city business.
The city had passed an amendment to its animal ordinance last year requiring collection devices on all large animals, after years of trying to get the Amish community traveling through Auburn to clean up the horse manure on the streets and parking areas.
Local attorney Jay Joines, who is representing many Amish who have been cited, fined and jailed for violating the city ordinance, asked to be placed on the city’s agenda at its regular scheduled meeting Monday. Joines asked if the city would be willing to take the requirement off the books if the Amish promised to clean up after themselves.
Joines began his plea by praising the City of Auburn for its rich history of being welcoming. He mentioned the Shakers who set up not far from the city during the Civil War, and how Auburn supported them and welcomed them into their community.
“In my opinion Auburn is a great city and has been welcoming to folks. I am asking Auburn to once again extend that welcome to those who are not necessarily mainstream,” said Joines adding, “The Amish live a simple lifestyle and they greatly benefit the community.”
Joines ended by saying the requirement for collection devices won’t work. He said he had spoken to many buggy operators in other cities, as well as veterinarians who say the devise won’t work when the horse is at a trot.
“You say this ordinance does not target one particular group, but it does in fact single out one,” said Joines. “This ordinance has diminished their ability to not only travel through the city, but on state roads. The ordinance has kept them from getting out of their homes.”
Joines noted that it was sad when he is in court and sees a drug dealer walk out, but two Amish men sit in jail for “horse poop.”
“The Amish have told me they will strongly comply with cleaning up after themselves. They will carry a shovel with them when they travel,” said Joines to the council Monday. “I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to this group it is a big deal.”
Some of those who stood and spoke after Joines at the Monday meeting included Peggy Moody, Rudy Miller, Georgia Hodges, Roger Blaylock, William Joiner, Gayle Gregory and Dan Mast.
Moody quoted scripture, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” She said somewhere along the way people have forgotten about treating people with respect. She said Auburn had gotten into a predicament and needed to find a way out of the mess.
“We are all neighbors,” said Moody.
Miller, who is an Amish elder, spoke saying sometimes it’s hard to stop right at that moment when there are horses apples. He gave some advise to the council before sitting down.
“If you have a little dead grass and you light it on fire, a little water can put it out. But if you put gasoline on it then it will ignite it. We are doing the best we can. We don’t want to offend anyone,” said Miller.
Hodges message was short, but drew applause from many in attendance.
“If our Savor Jesus Christ came back today and rode through town on a donkey, would He be subject to the same?” asked Hodges of the council.
Mast, who was one of two Amish jailed for violating the ordinance, spoke to the council saying it was hard sometimes to stop in the middle of the street when there are three to four vehicles behind you blowing and cussing at you. He adding it was easier to stop on the smaller streets, but not the bigger ones.
Gregory, who is a former Auburn City Council member, asked how does the city no if the Amish will clean up after themselves when that is the reason the ordinance was amended in the first place?
“This all started years ago and escalated to where it is,” said Gregory. “They were not cleaning up after themselves. Now they say they will pick up. Well if it hasn’t happened the past years, how do we know it will now? If they had been picking up in the beginning we wouldn’t be here.”
Joines said he was very disappointed none of the council members acknowledged him or those who spoke.
“It’s just a shame with all the people here tonight, not one single comment from the council,” said Joines.
Mayor Mike Hughes was absent from the meeting. Mayor pro-tem Rex Evans said he was out having surgery.
To contact Chris Cooper, email email@example.com or call 270-726-8394.