Second District Court of Appeal Affirms Hendry County Monkey Farm Ruling

Three monkeys behind fence.  Photo: Andrew West/The News-Press

Florida's Second District Court of Appeal recently affirmed, per curiam, a lower court ruling that Hendry County did not violate Florida's Sunshine Law. Concerned neighbors brought suit praying for injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that the County had held impermissibly secret meetings when permitting site development plans for controversial monkey farms.

The lower court found that the County did not violate the Sunshine Law because no county commissioner took part in any aspect of the permitting process—the Sunshine Law only requires that meetings between public officials be made open to the public.

The lower court further found that the County's permit approvals were not an improper abdication of policy-making to the County's staff. The lower court noted that the County had previously held public meetings to discuss the zoning of monkey farms in 2001 and 2002. During and after those public meetings the commission took no action to preclude the zoning of the monkey farms.

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