In Richmond County, the conversation surrounding vault privies has been revived.

When the Amish community initially requested the facilities for their school, the county staff was open to the idea with certain restrictions because the code, as it was written, was vague and didn’t prohibit them. But after extensive deliberation, the board of supervisors banned vault privies and added language to code making that prohibition clear.

This month, representatives from the Amish community came before the board of supervisors to rehash the issue framing the allowance of vault privies as “support” for the their school system.

Mr. Yoder, read a letter from the Amish elders, stating that “as a religious community, we feel a responsibility to uphold our traditions as it has been taught by our forefathers.”

He said they “desire to cooperate with the state as much as possible without conflicting with [the Amish] church rules and regulations.” 

He explained that they view their one-room school house, which has 20 to 30 pupils, as a branch of the church, and it’s run by members of the church.

Yoder said the community asks “no financial support of the state.” They aim to gain support and run their homes, churches and schools “in a way that it can be a grace or advantage to the state and not a disgrace,” and they “desire to make [their] children self-supporting and law-abiding citizens,” but they want to keep life plain and simple in line with their traditions. 

“The Amish and Mennonite request that they may be able to continue to operate their schools like as it was “granted in Pennsylvania, Maryland and many other states in the union,” he said.

He closed by saying that the community elders greatly appreciate whatever Richmond County can do to work with the community, which is growing in the area, he added.

District 2 Supervisor John Parr proposed that the matter be revisited.

Lee Sanders, the board chairman, pointed out that the debate over vault privies was discussed for four months before the decision to ban them was made. He agreed that the board could talk about it again if that’s what they want to do. “But it still doesn’t meet the building code,” he said.

The matter is set to be discussed at the board of supervisors meeting on October 8.