New York regulations have more Amish families calling Columbiana County home

ROGERS – Amish families transplanting here from New York have done so to get away from stricter building code regulations, according to one Amish woman who lives on Mill Rock Road.

Ann Wenderd and her husband Jacob moved to Rogers with their 10 children in December. Their eldest child is 23, and Mr. Wenderd makes a living as a carpenter locally.

Most of the Amish families in that area work in similar trades, and support local business through selling their wares and purchasing other items from places like Gorby’s Grocery or the Rogers Community Auction.

Mrs. Wenderd said her husband always had his eye on Ohio for a place to live, but was especially drawn to Rogers because of the auction, which they traveled to even before moving.

At one point the family was considering moving farther south, to Marietta, Ohio. The river city about two-and-a-half-hours south of Lisbon borders Parkersburg, W.Va., and is popular for its locally grown tomatoes and sweet corn.

In the end the Wenderds came back to Rogers, and are happy to call it home, even after surviving the especially harsh winter, Mrs. Wenderd said.

Before settling here last year they lived in a small community in New York, but the state’s building code regulations were becoming too difficult to deal with, she said.

The state has regulations for both commercial and residential structures.

Another Amish family on Mill Rock Road also moved to avoid the regulations, she said, and it is not the first time Amish families have left the state for those reasons.

Amish have faced the problem of being fined for not acquiring the proper building permits or not installing smoke detectors in their homes, according to other news media reports dating back to 2012 and 2009.

In some cases Amish families took the matters to court, citing religious infringement.

According to a BBC News report from 2012 five Amish men turned to a lawyer to help defend them in their fight against New York State after they were charged with contravening its building codes, part of which was their refusal to install the proper smoke alarms. Their lawyer argued the charge violated their constitutional right to worship freely, since the Amish believe they should abide by God’s laws alone, not man’s.

The Amish also don’t go out of their way to implement man-made safety precautions since they believe that doing so goes against putting faith in God. Should something happen to them that results in death, they see it as being able to be with God, according to information available on PBS online.

The broadcasting station has a new documentary highlighting the lives of the Amish and their attempts to live among an ever-changing modern society while maintaining their own 300-year-old traditions.

While Pennsylvania has a pretty heavy Amish population, and areas near Dover, Ohio have a decent Amish makeup, their presence in Columbiana County has not been overly significant until recently.

That more Amish were taking up residence in areas like Rogers, East Palestine and Negley drew the attention of Middleton Township trustees recently, and even the Highway Patrol, who went so far as to contact the media to get the word out to motorists that more Amish buggies are being seen on local roads.

The patrol turned to the Journal after a vehicle struck an Amish buggy on state Route 46 in Unity Township March 30. The 20-year-old Amish couple were both taken to the Salem Regional Medical Center for minor injuries and later released, while the horse driving them was later put down due to its injuries.

The couple live on Neeld Road in East Palestine and are familiar with the Wenderds.

Mrs. Wenderd said most of the Amish families in that area are from New York. Although the regulations are causing rifts between the state and Amish, it still has a significant Amish population, despite the exodus.

In fact, the Amish population has been on an upswing nationally the last several years, according to a previous FOX News report. Some keep in line with their conservative traditions and beliefs while others are welcoming more modern conveniences, like telephones, which are being used among some of the local Amish.

As for building regulations, Amish won’t be hit with any permitting violations or otherwise through the county for residential structures since it has not adopted building standards for that class, Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson said.

There is also no requirement through the state for residential structures, which are defined as anything three units or smaller. Standards apply to commercial structures only, he added.

“There hasn’t been an issue with us at this point,” he said referring to the local Amish population.