View Full Version : Failing to bring outhouses into compliance with sewage regulations.

03-17-2009, 10:48 PM
Judge Sends Amish Man to Jail

EBENSBURG, CAMBRIA COUNTY - An Amish man will serve jail time for failing to bring two outhouses into compliance with sewage regulations.

Cambria County judge Norman Krumenacker ordered Andy Swartzentruber to spend 90 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine.

Swartzentruber is a member of an ultra-conservative Amish sect from Barr Township. He owns the land on which a schoolhouse and two outhouses sit. Amish elders worked with the county to try and reach a compromise. Ultimately they said they could not take part in the testing process required when human waste is spread on fields.

"It seems like they could have complied with the law, that it wouldn't take that much of an intrusion into their beliefs. But they drew a line in the sand and said we're not doing the testing, we're not filing the applications, and we have a duty to enforce those sewage rules," William Gleason-Barbin, attorney for the sewage enforcement agency said.

Swartzentruber told his attorney whatever happened would be God's will.

"They're very religious, and I respect them for that. They're willing to accept the consequences of this," defense attorney James Stratton said.

In addition to the fine and jail time, Krumenacker ordered the school padlocked. He said anyone who tried to get in would be charged with trespass.

Swartzentruber will be released from jail if the outhouses are brought into compliance. His attorney is now concerned with how Swartzentruber will be treated by the general prison population.

"I fear that's going to be a problem for him. I'm going to talk to the warden and see if there's some kind of accommodations they can make for him. I think it could be very difficult," Stratton said.

Members of the sect could be back in court later this month. Two couples recently built new homes and outhouses on the property without going through the proper permitting process. In January, Krumenacker signed off on an injunction, giving Joely and Mary Swartzentruber and John and Susan Miller 60 days to comply with permitting and inspection requirements.


03-17-2009, 10:57 PM
Bob Dylan's neighbors sing outhouse blues
Malibu residents say wind-borne odors from a portable toilet at the singer's compound are making them ill.

How sweet is life when you live next to a celebrity in Malibu? Outside Bob Dylan's house, the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.That's what some of the singer-songwriter's neighbors are charging in an increasingly odoriferous dispute over a portable toilet at his sprawling ocean view estate on Point Dume.

Residents contend that the nighttime sea breeze sends a noxious odor from a portable toilet on Dylan's property wafting into their homes. The stench has made members of one family ill and forced them to abandon their bedrooms on warm nights, they say.For more than six months, Dylan, 67, has ignored their complaints and their pleas to remove the outhouse, the downwind neighbors say.

"It's a scandal -- 'Mr. Civil Rights' is killing our civil rights," said David Emminger, whose home is directly behind the toilet -- which is apparently intended for use by employees of the entertainer best known for his 1960s-era protest songs.

Emminger and his wife have installed five industrial-sized fans in their frontyard in an attempt to blow the odor back at Dylan. They say the fans are no match for the ocean breeze that sweeps across the singer's land, however.Dylan, who has lived in a compound next to Bluewater Road for more than two decades, did not respond to inquiries about the toilet. Neither did his New York-based attorney.

Malibu officials said they are investigating the complaint. As a result, they are unable to discuss the issue, they said.But Dylan's neighbors who contend their patience has run out have plenty to say about the odor.

"It started in September. I'd go into the frontyard and get nauseous," said Cindy Emminger, 42. "I couldn't figure out at first where the smell was coming from."Her 8-year-old son, David Jr., was sickened by the stench. Then she became ill too.

"We both have allergies and are sensitive to chemicals," she said. "I finally noticed that they had moved the porta-potty directly in front of my front door."By some accounts, the city's response has been sluggish.

In January, one inspector reported that a city code enforcement officer was turned away by Dylan's security staff and told that he was trespassing. "He said they were going to sue the city," the inspector said. Guards who staff a security shack near the edge of Dylan's compound around the clock are among those who utilize the toilet, neighbors say.

The guardhouse has been the source of controversy in the past. In 1989, when Dylan sought a permit to build it, Los Angeles County building and safety inspectors discovered it was not accessible to the handicapped.

According to county records, the singer bypassed accessibility requirements by promising, in writing, that he "would not hire any handicapped persons" to work in it.

Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen denied Emminger's charge that officials allow celebrities to "dictate terms" to the city.

"There's no truth in that whatsoever. Everybody, in our opinion, is a high-profile person. We have to treat everybody by what the code says. It's not a matter of clout or of money. We treat everybody exactly the same," Thorsen said.

Although Malibu's municipal laws apparently do not directly address the issue of the permanent use of a portable toilet, one code section states that temporary structures connected to authorized construction projects must be removed upon completion of the project.

Another prohibits objectionable odor "in excess of what is normally found in the neighborhood."


03-17-2009, 11:09 PM
Who am I more worried about in terms of ground and surface water contamination? A bunch of Amish with an outhouse or a bunch of Hollywood lefties with 5.8 bathrooms per person?