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Published May 18, 2010, 09:07 AM

Farm family challenging Lake Elmo ordinance on selling Wisconsin grown products

Minnesota News
- A federal lawsuit will be filed today by a suburban Twin Cities farm family who says their community is violating their right to sell pumpkins and Christmas trees made on their Wisconsin land and others in the state.

LAKE ELMO, Minn. - A federal lawsuit will be filed today by a suburban Twin Cities farm family who says their community is violating their right to sell pumpkins and Christmas trees made on their Wisconsin land and others in the state.

Keith Bergmann is challenging a 1970’s ordinance in Lake Elmo Minnesota. It allows farmers to only sell products made on their own farms, unless they re-zone their land or get a business permit. Bergmann told city officials last December that he sells pumpkins made on his land in western Wisconsin – and he also sells Christmas trees made in the Badger State and others. City officials responded by dusting off the old ordinance – which they say is needed to maintain Lake Elmo’s rural character only a few miles from Saint Paul.

City Administrator Bruce Messelt said officials were working to resolve the matter, and it’s unfortunate a lawsuit has to be filed. The Institute for Justice is handling the legal case for the Bergmanns. Attorney Anthony Sander says the city is discriminating against them, based on where their merchandise is grown. And he says the law it’s clearly unconstitutional, even if the Bergmanns re-zone. The Bergmanns say they could lose up to 30-percent of their annual income if the ordinance is enforced. Christmas tree grower Dan Fitzgerald of New Richmond is also a party to the suit, saying he wants to keep the Bergmanns as a future customer of his own.

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