Homeowners who sued Hendry County for approving massive laboratory monkey breeding facilities near their homes – without telling them – talk to JaneUnChained as they wait for the judge’s ruling. They voice frustration and make predictions. Plaintiff/homeowner/taxpayer/husband and father Billy Stephens was right when he predicted the judge would rule in favor of the county and against homeowners. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, which represents the homeowners, has vowed to appeal. The ALDF’s statement on the verdict is below.
Statement for Hendry County
July 8, 2016
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is disappointed with the recent “MonkeyGate” ruling from Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit Court. The court found that the county’s approval of the primate breeding facilities was not illegal because the county had historically approved similar facilities in the early 2000s. However, the approval process for those earlier facilities also violated Florida’s Sunshine Law, which requires state and local government bodies to hold public hearings and provide public notice for all steps in a policy-making process – like deciding to allow breeding dangerous and exotic primates as “animal husbandry” in agriculture zoning despite that term’s general limitation to raising domestic animals such as cows and sheep. The fact remains that county staff made the decision to approve all of the primate breeding facilities in closed-door meetings with developers without any public notice. Troublingly, the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners tacitly approved this secretive policy-making decision through inaction at subsequent board meetings. The citizens of Hendry County deserve better from their government, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund fully intends to appeal this decision on behalf of the local citizens.