CONEJOS COUNTY — The La Jara Old Order Amish Church received permission for a needed structure June 6 as the Conejos Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a special use review for a reception/meeting hall.
Rueben Gingerich represented the applicants and said the Amish needed a place for community meetings, auctions, funerals, weddings and fundraising suppers.
In recent years, the Amish communities in Rio Grande and Conejos counties have grown with the need of the people to diversify and create income streams beyond the traditional agriculture. Among the enterprises are a bakery, salvaged groceries, a general store, iron and wood workers, dog breeders, a sawmill, artisans and more.
The Amish are members of a church that accepts the basic tenets of Christian faith, emphasizing values such as simplicity, community, separation of church and state, pacifism and lay leadership.
Amish don’t reject all modern technology, but choose types that will serve their community. They have cell phones, lights and other amenities but use them sparingly.
They hire drivers to take them for distances that would be too far for the traditional horse and buggy or which would produce materials too large to haul. The horse and buggy also is a symbol of their separation from the larger world.
Amish residents pay taxes like everyone else and the most recent project went through the necessary channels of Conejos County’s land use code. Zoned rural, the area required a special use permit for a large building such as a hall. It’s along U.S. Highway 285 approximately one-tenth of a mile south of the sawmill entrance. It had unanimous Planning and Zoning Commission approval and won the same from the BOCC.