Amish bakery complies with law

By Darrin Clark • Last Updated 10:44 am on Monday, November 07, 2011

Mary’s Bakery in Pine Township has reopened after Amish owner Rudy Yoder agreed to follow state building code and comply with the Montcalm County Building Department.

PINE TOWNSHIP — The owner of an Amish bakery has decided to follow the law — but he still doesn’t agree with it.
Montcalm County Building Department Director Scott Minard shut down Mary’s Bakery earlier this autumn after Rudy Yoder constructed an addition to the bakery without proper permits and in violation of state building code.
Yoder and his wife, Mary, have operated Mary’s Bakery at 5444 N. Vining Road, just south of Lakeview with their daughters, Verna, 22, and Katieann, 17, for a decade out of a basement. Yoder demolished that building this summer and constructed a two-story addition to his home to house the bakery.
Rudy Yoder first went to the Building Department to get a permit for a building to replace the bakery. Minard said the addition was considered a commercial building under state construction code, meaning Yoder must obtain sealed drawings by an architect or engineer.
Minard said Yoder didn’t like that explanation and came back the next day, saying he was just going to put a storage addition on his house. Minard explained that if the building is used as a store, Yoder would need to obtain the proper permits or Minard would shut down the business. Minard said Yoder went ahead and built the addition, using it for his new store, and did not contact Minard to conduct a final inspection.
Minard inspected the bakery in early September and informed Yoder he was in violation of four sections of Michigan Construction Code. Minard shut down the bakery, saying it was “illegal, dangerous and unsafe.”
Yoder contends Mary’s Bakery is a home occupation, not a commercial business. Minard does not dispute that the bakery is a home occupation. But the building code still describes the building use as “mercantile,” which is commercial use and requires sealed drawings.
About two months later, Yoder decided to obtain the proper sealed drawings and turn them over to the Building Department so he could operate out of his new facility.
“It still ain’t right,” Yoder said. “It was the only way to get peace, I guess. But the game ain’t over yet.”
Minard allowed the bakery to open in the new facility on at least temporary basis starting last weekend. Yoder must install a proper entrance and ramp and make some small adjustments inside the facility.
Minard was surprised that Yoder changed his mind and complied with the law.
“I figured it would be more of a battle, to be perfectly honest,” Minard said. “I know he was trying to get upper government on my case. I’ve been trying really hard to work with him and make it easy as possible, but still make him follow the law.”
Yoder said the sealed drawings don’t do anyone any good. He said the United States is over-governed on a federal, state and local level.
“I’m not an anti-government person,” he said. “I do believe in law and order and government. I would really like to trade ends with one of those guys (with a government job) making $80,000 a year. I would love for one of them to be in my shoes. Get out here and see what we’re doing and see if you can do it any better.”
Yoder and his wife said their customers have supported them during the controversy this autumn.
“I thank God and all the people who are for us,” Yoder said. “Minard and the government were against us, but God and many of his people have supported us in this situation.”

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