Local farmer files lawsuit against Lake Erie Bill of Rights

    Drewes Farms filed the lawsuit against the Lake Erie Bill of Rights on Wednesday (WNWO).

    TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) -- A lawsuit has been filed against the Lake Erie Bill of Rights not even a day after it passed.

    The Lake Erie Bill of Rights was approved by voters on Tuesday, giving citizens the right to sue on behalf of Lake Erie.

    The Drewes Farms from Custar in Wood County filed it in federal court in Toledo on Wednesday morning.

    "While this is one very brave farmer taking action, how this ultimately is decided will have implications for farmers not just in Ohio but across the nation," said Joe Cornely, Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman.

    In a 27 page complaint, the farm calls the action unconstitutional and unlawful, saying in part "the ability to properly fertilize its fields is crucial to the success of the Drewes Farms farming operations."

    The Ohio Farm Bureau pledged its support to the farm and says there is a better way to ensure a cleaner Lake Erie.

    "It's always been our contention that we're not going to solve these problems at the ballot box, we're going to solve them with scientists and farmers and environmental organizations, learning what the problems are and then figuring out how to solve them," said Cornely.

    Ken Kilbert is a professor at the University of Toledo College of Law and says the approach is flawed.

    "They're trying to pass a law, I mean it's an ordinance right for the city, so they can't extraterritoriality start dictating to the rest of the Lake Erie basin, which includes not only much of Ohio, but parts of four other states and Canada," said Kilbert.

    County commissioners recognize the charter may not be enforceable, but view it as a springboard to find a better solution.

    "We would rather work with the farmers to find out what things we can support them on to get to the future of farming rather than say I can't because that means I wont," said Pete Gerken, Lucas County Commissioner.

    Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie say the special election win Tuesday night was huge and it's something for the city to be proud of.

    "I do think that this Lake Erie Bill of Rights can be a positive because it is providing attention to the issue and we do need to do more to protect the lake but this is a legally flawed mechanism for doing so," said Kilbert.

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