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Appeals court upholds fine against Amish couple for not following building code


WAUSAU, WI (WTAQ) - A state appeals court said an Amish couple did not prove that their religious beliefs kept them from following a local building code in Eau Claire County.

Clemens and Christine Borntreger failed to convince the Third District Appellate Court in Wausau that their religious objections to smoke detectors stopped them maintaining a house near Fairchild.

Eau Claire County officials say the house is not structurally sound, and they believe that the tenants who rented the house still live there. The appeals court upheld a $2,500 fine levied by a circuit judge last July for building code violations.

The Borntregers said the building code goes against beliefs of the Old Amish Order, because of its requirements for electronic devices. Their attorney, George Miller, told the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that the Borntregers had faced an uphill battle from the start – because they were trying to re-open a case that was closed and decided.

The Borntregers had previously missed a deadline to respond to Eau Claire County’s original action against them – and a judge issued a default judgment in the county’s favor.