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Farmony iNC

 

HOW MADISON COUNTY HAS HABITUALLY ABUSED OUR PROPERTY AND OUR CIVIL RIGHTS*

 

PLEASE SIGN 0UR  PETITION  -  https://www.change.org/p/animal-lovers-and-wildlife-rescuers-local-government-illegal-shutdown-of-animal-sanctuary/share_for_starters?just_created=true

 

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“When you abandon the rule of law… and the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928

Wise and poetic words for this country then and for Madison County right now!

 

 

MADISON COUNTY, N.C. SHUTS DOWN CHURCH/SANTUARY AND SAYS IT WILL ARREST IT’S MINISTERS IF THEY CONTINUE TO OPERATE.

They have gone so far as to say that we cannot have volunteers, or even family and friends on our property.

In addition, they have given us just a few weeks to remove the animals from our property or they will arrest us. We were never even accused of any type of wrong doing concerning the animals, and... Madison County has NO authority over any animal on our property.

They are even claiming that they are not required to notify us of any legal proceedings held against us.

They are also telling us that they don't like what we post on this website, and that we need to take it off line.

Evidently, Madison County has obtained an exemption to the U.S. Constitution. Aside from abusing our civil rights, Madison County also does the the following:

-The public school marque displays religious messages.

- They have bible quotes on the government owned fire trucks

- They hold a Christmas Pageant inside the county courthouse and on the front lawn.

- Norris Gentry, (a Madison County Commissioner), acting on his own, orders the Judge, and the county attorney what they will and will not do during court prcedings.

 

 

        We believe we are being singled out and discriminated
           against because of our race and religious practice.

 

  •    Farmony, Inc. is a religious entity, and sanctioned as such by the federal government. Our two onsite directors and property owners, are a mixed-race couple. Our church promotes the spirit of the natural world. We invite people from all walks of life and beliefs to participate. In order to get our message across it is essential and integral to our church to operate a sanctuary & farm which gives people the chance to connect with the natural world and what the creator has provided us with. Both of our directors are ordained ministers. Madison County has decided it is OK for them to shut down a church and arrest the ministers for operating that church!
  • We were never given a “fair trial”.   We were not notified of the hearing where we were found guilty of violating their land use ordinance, until after it was over. Madison County says they do not have to notify us of any hearings concerning us.
  • It has been mentioned numerous times that they do not like seeing all of the cars in our parking lot. We have absolutely no control over this. Sherriff Buddy Harwood, and now County Commissioner Mike Garrison instructed our neighbors to illegally tear down our gate, and told us we were not allowed to have a gate.
  • We had previously confirmed with our attorney that we were allowed to have a gate.
  • We have video of a Sheriff’s deputy damaging an interior gate while trespassing. At the time he was attempting to break into our property by damaging or destroying our gate, he had already passed five no trespassing signs. Two stated that government employees without an appointment would be trespassing, and three of the signs specifically listed the sheriff’s office as trespassing.  NC law states that the Sheriff and Sheriff’s deputy are one and the same.
  • The Madison county sign ordinance says 501c3 entities are exempt.  We are a 501c3 entity and we were charged and fined for violating the sign ordinance for a small sign printed on our computer.

 

  • The Madison County Land Use Ordinance 1.1 states that any entity having any one of several certifications are exempt from the land use ordinance. It does not mention anywhere that accepting donations or even charging a fee would exclude you from the exemption. We have more than one of those certifications. We are not in any city limits, so only federal, state, and county law applies to us.
  • To qualify as a bona fide farm with North Carolina we are required to generate funds through selling things grown on the farm or through fees from experiences or classes offered on the farm. Madison County is claiming that those are the exact things that disqualify us as a farm.

 

Madison County is claiming that we are a “zoo”, even though they do not have a definition of what a zoo is in any of their ordinances. They are saying that being a zoo puts us in a different zoning category that would be like skating rink, water theme park, or a movie theater, and that we are not agricultural or a religious entity. That category is a “Recreation Facility.”

  • Our entire property is registered with the U.S.D.A. as an Official Farm, as well as being registered with North Carolina as a Bona fide Farm. The farm has many aspects to it including but not limited to growing crops in a sustainable way, responsibly harvesting natural and wild food and medicinal plants, personal interaction with wildlife both natural to the property as well as those we have taken in when they needed a home. We do not know of any “Zoo” that does these things. We are also not aware of any “Zoo” that offers every visitor a personal tour of the farm, or even in their case, the animals. We did all of that. Most every “Zoo” we are aware of will not take in any animals solely because that animal is in need of a home. We, however, do exactly that. We are not aware of any zoo that is operated by a religious entity for the purpose of promoting their mission, or that qualify as official or bona fide farms.
  • Madison county gave us 10 days to get rid of our animals.  They did not give us a reason why, and they have no authority over our animals.
  • The Madison County Managers office has failed on numerous occasions, (being all but one instance), to provide us with answers to our requests for public information under the “Freedom of Information Act.”
  • Madison County sent us notice that we were violating one of their ordinances, and that would result in up to $100 per day fines. The ordinance was written exclusively for us and would not apply to any other entity past or current in this county. They did assess the fines, but it turns out the ordinance was never passed into law, so legally it does not exist.
  •  Numerous churches and farms and a community club in our area have the same zoning as we do, which is Residential/Agricultural, and are allowed to do the exact same things we are not allowed to do. Many of these farms offer classes, tours, and other experiences for a fee. We have flyers from the community club stating that they charge a fee, sell tickets, and have a “play zone”. These are the things that Madison County land use ordinance says make you a “recreation Facility”, yet they are zoned exactly like our property, and have not been told to change.
  • One of the six signers of a petition against us to the court was heard in a restaurant referring to the directors here as ‘a nigger woman and her Jewish husband’. She said we were not supposed to be in the mountains.  Another signer of the petition is her daughter. And yet another signer of the petition is related to the judge we had to face.

 

 

 

The following is a list of some of the things Madison County has done to us which destroy our property and violate our civil rights.

  • The sheriff, Buddy Harwood, and now commissioner Mike Garrison, told neighbors to vandalize our property and remove our gate. They also told us we cannot have a gate, which is not true. When we asked them to provide us with the ordinance pertaining to this, they refused. When we asked them to talk to the neighbors about tampering with our security cameras, Mike Garrison told us that there is no law about tampering with security cameras.
  • We also have video of sheriff deputies, (while trespassing), trampling our landscaping, littering our property, and trying to break into a locked gate which resulted in damage to the gate as well as the electric arm.
  • The sheriff ordered a detective to trespass on our property and collect illegal evidence.
  • Cited us more than once for violating ordinances that we are legally exempt from.
  • Raised our taxes 4 times in 1 ½ years & won’t tell us why.
  • Tried to get the U.S.D.A. not to give us a permit.
  • They will not respond to our multiple requests for public information based on the Freedom of Information Act. (A violation of federal law.)
  • Has not ever responded to anything we sent them.
  • Are taxing us for an organization that existed in Florida, but has never operated in this state.
  • Sent us a violation notice with a fine of $57,000 saying that we violated a land use ordinance. The ordinance they provided does not actually exist. We are also completely exempt from their land us ordinance. (Chapter 1.1 of the Madison County Land Use Ordinance states that “Bona fide” farms are exempt from the Land Use Ordinance. We are registered with the state of North Carolina as a bona fide farm with tax exempt status. We are also registered with the U.S.D.A. as an official farm. According the Madison County land use ordinance, EITHER of these gives us exemption from that ordinance.
  • They are now saying that we are a “Recreational Facility” because we charge a fee. We have actually never charged a fee. We are a registered non-profit and had a “suggested donation.” ALSO, THE LAND USE ORDINANCE THAT CLEARLY STATES THAT WE ARE EXEMPT, DOES NOT STATE  ANY EXCEPTIONS ANYWHERE, AND NOWHERE DOES IT STATE THAT WE COULD NOT CHARGE A FEE. It also clearly states that any form of agriculture, or horticulture is considered agricultural use. We would not need a permit from the United States Department of AGRICULTURE, if we were not an agricultural entity. There are multiple agricultural entities in Madison County that charge fees. They have not been told they need a zoning variance.
  • The land use ordinance says that “Recreational Facilities” are things like a bowling alley, skate rink, or water park, and that our purpose would be to amuse and entertain. To be put in that category, we would also have had to either sell tickets or charge a fee. As previously stated, we have never done either. Our entrance was always stated as a suggested donation to our non-profit. The county is claiming that accepting a donation is exactly the same thing as charging a fee. Even if we did charge a fee for agricultural experiences, it does not make us a Recreational Facility. That would be like you attending a math class with a teacher that taught math in a very amusing and entertaining way, and claiming that it was not a math class, but actually a comedy show.
  • At one point the county ordered us to get rid of all our animals within 10 days. (They have zero authority over any animal on our property.)
  • They have also cited for violating the sign ordinance. The first paragraph of that ordinance clearly states that 501(c)3 organizations are exempt from that ordinance. We are a registered 501(c)3 and we have told them that but once again get no response.
  • The commissioners held an illegal, behind closed doors meeting solely for the purpose of harassing us. (We have proof of this.)
  • Sent us notice of violating an ordinance along with the amount of fines for that violation, when in fact, that ordinance never actually existed.
  • The manager’s office on multiple occasions as failed to respond to our requests for public information. This violates the United States Freedom of Information act. We have told them more than once that this in violation of that act, and yet still never received a response. Again, we have proof of this.
  • All “evidence” in our files from the courthouse, are copies of a website from a different organization that existed in another state. You cannot legally use this as evidence about anything we are doing in this county.
  • Any supposed evidence that was obtained while trespassing, or through any other illegal activities is not court presentable evidence. So far we have not seen any actual evidence of any wrong doing on our part.
  • The county provided as “evidence” that we were violating their ordinances by providing pictures of a Sheriff Department employee, while trespassing, taking selfies, showing people on our property, which everyone including us has the right to do, and a picture of two $20 bills. As far as we can tell, all of that shows that you trespassed, you don’t take very good selfies, but you do know how to take a picture of arbitrary money.
  • We have also not been legally notified of any court dates, hearings, etc. The few notices we received came well after the date of the meeting or hearing. After getting a copy of our records from the courthouse, it is very clear that we were not even notified at all of several proceedings.
  • We have already filed an official complaint about the county with the United States Department of Justice. We are also talking to the F.B.I. about several of the actions Madison County employees have taken against us. They say that some of these actions are extremely serious offences.
  • We have also had conversations with attorneys from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. They have told us that we are clearly an agricultural entity and legally exempt from the land use ordinance. They also stated that not only can we charge a fee, they encourage agribusiness and agritourism facilities to charge a fee and that doing so does not put us in a different zoning category. They also say that even if people are entertained or amused during their agricultural experience it is still agricultural and does not exclude us from the land use exemptions.
  • Going back over 40 years a United States Attorney General has been a supporter of our organization. We also have N.C. Senators and Representatives supporting us.
  • It is time to stop this blatant abuse on us and focus your attention and taxed based resources to any of the numerous things that actually need attention and resources in this county. We have done NOTHING wrong and are not harming anybody or anything. You cannot legally make up things that don’t exist in your laws and continue to say we are in violation of them just because you said so. There needs to be an actual law that specifically describes what you are accusing us of.
  • Before we bought our property, we spoke with then Director of zoning, Ryan Cody. We told him what we wanted to do on the property and what type of activities we would conduct there. He told us that we did not need any permits or zoning changes, since everything we would be doing was agricultural, and we were already zoned for that use. After owning the property a very short time, we received a letter from Mr. Cody stating 6 violations. We went to his office to discuss these with him. He told us that none of the 6 items was actually a violation, but that he was told to “word things strongly to us.” We will likely be looking into getting a deposition from him, and ask more specifics such as which individuals told him to threaten us with false accusations as well as other questions.
  • Shortly after acquiring our property, Madison County employees spreading false and malicious rumors. One of these rumors was that our tigers and lions had escaped and were killing the local livestock. We have never had any large cat, and have no plans to ever have one. However if your intent is simply to get the neighbors to dislike us, that is a false, (and illegal), but interesting way to do it.
  • We are currently working with attorneys, as well as politicians in Raleigh, and the consequences to the county for these and other actions that have violated our property and civil rights could be staggering.

 

 

*All statements on this website are believed to be true and accurate, however, none are intended as absolute and cannot be used in any legal proceedings or any type of court of law by anyone other than the author.