Court: No Sunshine violation

Friday afternoon, July 8, Judge James D. Sloan, Twentieth Judicial Circuit, ruled that Hendry County did not violate the Sunshine Law in permitting two monkey breeding facilities.

Animal Legal Defense Fund attorneys represented William Stephens, Carol Grey and Keely Cinkota in the suit, which accused the county of violating the Sunshine Law because it did not first have a public hearing on the matter.

The county maintains that such facilities fall under the animal husbandry category and are located in appropriate agricultural zoning.

The lawsuit included two facilities. So Flo Agriculture is adjacent to the Lee County line and Panther Tracts (Primate Products), which is located near Immokalee.

SW Florida Citizens for Responsible Development attended the trial. “This is a potentially catastrophic threat to our property values, public health and native environment,” according to Dr. Madeleine Doran of the Southwest Florida Citizens for Responsible Development.

“I am outraged by the judge’s decision: further, I believe the County Commissioners should have been required to testify.

“We will appeal and I believe a higher Court and judge with no ties to the local community will rule differently.”

Hendry County is delighted with the Judge’s ruling that it did not violate the Sunshine Law.

“We are pleased with Judge Sloan’s ruling upholding our constant assertions that Hendry County did not violate Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law. Our legal team is to be commended, especially County Attorney Mark Lapp,” says Charles Chapman, County Administrator.

A statement from the county added, “Hendry County continues to stand by the rights provided to our property owners contained within the language of our comprehensive plan and land code.”

The plaintiffs have indicated that they will appeal the decision.

The Caloosa Belle is published every Thursday.

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