Rutherford Institute Comes to Defense of Shut-Down Tree Charity - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rutherford Institute Comes to Defense of Shut-Down Tree Charity

Posted: Updated: Jan 2, 2013 06:17 PM EST

Charlottesville's Rutherford Institute is building its defense of a Waynesboro man shut down by the city for selling Christmas trees for charity. The organization says if it can't reach an agreement with the city, it may move forward with legal action.  

Christmas tree farmer Christian Critzer was selling trees to raise money to buy wigs for women battling cancer, but he hit a road block along the way. Waynesboro's zoning laws wouldn't allow him to sell Christmas trees from his Rosser Avenue home or even give them away as he tried to do later.

Now, the Rutherford Institute is stepping in, saying Critzer was not in violation of city code because his stand was not a commercial operation. 

President John Whitehead sent a letter to the city attorney and was told the matter would get looked into. "We're waiting for the city attorney to give a written response. If we don't get that in the next couple of days we're going to follow up and get a response from them. If they're going to keep up on this train, we may have to file a lawsuit," said Whitehead.  

Whitehead says this situation is the latest in what he calls the "over-criminalization of America" as people in similar circumstances across the country have asked for his help.

We're told Critzer contacted the institute because he hopes to bring the stand back next year, but also wants to make sure he can do it legally.

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