Following the passage of Question 2, the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” Initiative, at a special election on February 26 in Toledo, Ohio, Drewes Farms Partnership filed a lawsuit against the city regarding the measure.
In Drewes Farms Partnership v. City of Toledo, Ohio, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on February 27, the plaintiff argued that the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” violates the plaintiff’s free speech, equal protection, and due process constitutional rights and that it is beyond the city’s authority to enforce. Drewes Farms also stated that enforcing the newly approved bill of rights could prevent the farm from properly fertilizing crops, as they cannot guarantee that runoff from fertilization would not enter the Lake Erie watershed.
Question 2, approved Tuesday with 61 percent of the vote, was designed to add the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” to the Toledo City Charter, establishing that the Lake Erie and the Lake Erie Watershed “possess the right to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.” The charter amendment also states that the people of Toledo have certain rights, including the “right to a clean and healthy environment” and the “right to self-government” and grants that both the city and residents may enforce the amendment’s provisions through court action. Toledoans for Safe Water petitioned to place the measure on the ballot, stating that the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” would protect residents’ access to clean and safe drinking water. The group formed after a harmful algal bloom (HAB) led the city to issue a drinking water advisory in 2014.