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Carriage committee approves registrations

The Shipshewana Carriage for Hire Committee met Tuesday evening to go over four registration applications received from carriage for hire businesses and a new pedicab business starting up this summer.

While the four applications were approved by the committee, they were pending visual inspection of the carriages and pedicabs.

Riegsecker Marketplace, Miller Buggy Line Tours, and Buggy Lane Tours were the three carriage for hire businesses to submit applications, with Shipshewana Pedicab applying, as well. In discussing how to verify that all of the proper safety equipment – slow moving vehicle sign, lights, etc. – were in place, the committee decided that it would ask the Shipshewana Police Department to do a visual inspection of each vehicle. Town Marshal Tom Fitch, who sits on the committee, agreed to have the department handle this task, noting it would be easy to accomplish and be consistent for each application.

Business owner Kenny Stutzman had also requested a waiver for the minimum age requirement of 18, but the committee would not change the age requirement. Stutzman told the committee he felt it was wrong to apply standards meant for cars, where there is a minimum age requirement to carry passengers for hire, and horse-drawn buggies. “How can you use that law when it’s about cars at 55 miles per hour, when the horses are only doing four or five?” Stutzman asked.

Stutzman also questioned how the town council had the right to create a law overseeing carriages for hire. “This is going to take away work from me,” he added. “I don’t have to be in Shipshewana.”

Fitch reminded Stutzman that the committee was only there to administer the law passed by the council, and that Stutzman would need to address the council over any changes he wanted to see.

The committee also discussed the insurance requirement. One operator, Sam Yoder, had not submitted his application and had previously asked about using Amish Aid as his insurance. Although not an actual organization, it is relied upon by those in the Amish culture for assistance in lieu of insurance.

The difficulty faced by the town is how to document this. “We’ve been trying to find a way to make that (Amish Aid) fit,” town attorney Kurt Bachman said Wednesday. “It needs to be in writing to show proof and the level of coverage.”

Under the town’s ordinance, carriage for hire operators must carry: $500,000 for death or injury of any one person; $1,000,000 for total liability for death or personal injury arising out of one event or casualty; and $50,000 for property damage.

Bachman added that the town has to avoid creating two different classes of businesses, as in one group that would have to show documented proof of insurance and another that would not face the same requirement. “That’s the challenge, to be consistent with other carriage owners,” he said.