City of Bayfield Backs Down

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In a victory for small businesses fighting government over-regulation everywhere, the City of Bayfield in northern Wisconsin has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit by repealing regulations four bed & breakfast owners had argued were unconstitutional.  These regulations had restricted who could own and operate a B&B in Bayfield by requiring owners to live in the B&B at least half the year, list the B&B on their driver’s license, and establish the B&B as their permanent voting residence.

“We’ve been welcoming guests to Bayfield for 14 years,” said Barb Hoekstra, one of the plaintiffs.  “If this ordinance had been in effect back in 1998, we would have found somewhere else to open a bed and breakfast.”

In a settlement agreement reached between the parties, the city has agreed to repeal those changes, bringing its B&B regulations in line with statewide requirements.  In return, the B&B owners have agreed to dismiss their lawsuit, although they are reserve their right to challenge any future regulations in court, if necessary.

The United States Constitution prohibits cities from discriminating against people who live outside their borders,” explained Tom Kamenick, associate counsel for WILL.  “You can’t pass an ordinance requiring someone to live in the city before they can do business there.”

“It was very hard to find a local attorney who could help us,” said Hoekstra.  “We are grateful that the folks at WILL understand that the Constitution gives us rights and privileges that no level of government can take away.”

Read more about this case here.

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