- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

OSAGE, Iowa (AP) - A magistrate has ruled a revised ordinance limiting the use of steel wheels on Mitchell County’s paved roads still violates the religious freedom of Mennonites.

Mitchell County Magistrate Nicholas Larson ruled last week in the case of Derek Zimmerman, a 14-year-old from Orchard who in August 2015 received a citation for violating the steel wheel ordinance while driving a tractor, according to the Globe Gazette (https://bit.ly/28L1OIF ).

The teen is part of the Groffdale Conference Mennonite Church, which bans the use of rubber wheels.

In a 2012 case that began when Derek’s older brother, Matthew Zimmerman, was ticketed for violating a law banning the use of steel wheels on roads, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the ordinance violated the Mennonite’s religious freedom.

The county made changes to the law, but Larson ruled it still violated Derek Zimmerman’s rights, saying the ordinance “does not survive strict scrutiny.”



His attorney had argued that the revised ordinance was unconstitutional because officials could have allowed steel wheel tractors on paved roads when no alternative gravel routes exist or could have let people put up bonds to pay for possible future damage.

Larson ruled that Zimmerman had violated a state ordinance and ordered him to pay $20 because he didn’t apply for a permit allowing him to use steel wheels. The Mitchell County ordinance doesn’t offer such permits.

Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk later filed an appeal of Larson’s ruling.

The Zimmerman family runs a vegetable farm and transport produce to farmers markets and an auction house.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, https://www.globegazette.com/

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