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Missouri

May 30, 2008

Zoning Enforcers Threaten Big Family

Longtime HSLDA members Ben and Flora Worth (name changed to protect the family’s privacy), of St. Louis County, Missouri, were surprised to open their door and find a policeman, zoning enforcement officer and a social worker. They said a complaint had been filed about too many people living in the house. The Worths have a large family.

After questioning the family, the officials left with a warning: they said they would not “push it” unless they received more complaints. Shaken, the Worths called Home School Legal Defense Association for help.

HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff, not wanting the family to live in fear of what might happen if another complaint were filed, promptly called the zoning officer. Woodruff knew that most zoning ordinances do not limit the number of people who can live in a house if they are all of the same immediate family, so he had doubts about the validity of the officials’ threat. He wanted to know exactly what ordinance they were supposedly violating.

When Woodruff called the zoning official, he acknowledged that the reason he, the policeman, and social worker had left the Worth home without taking any action against them was not simply a matter of magnanimously letting a zoning violation slide (until the next complaint). He conceded that there was simply no zoning violation in the first place! It’s not against any law—zoning or otherwise—to have a large family.